A couple of weeks ago I noticed a large, dark purple bruise on my outer thigh, and couldn’t for the life of me figure out how it got there. Then a few days later, two more dark bruises on my right knee. I have had ongoing issues with low iron levels (likely due in part to my intense physical training), and typically, this sort of unexplained or exaggerated bruising is my first clue that my iron levels may be low and that it’s time to start taking a supplement again. The weird thing is, I’d had my iron levels tested back in September (they were completely normal), and had been very diligently continuing to take my iron supplement ever since. I’d also had routine blood work done at Week 11 of the pregnancy, again with normal iron levels. Between my iron supplement, my prenatal vitamin (containing 27 mg of iron), and a steady diet of red meat, I was at a bit of a loss to explain this sudden iron deficiency… but then again, pregnancy does some weird things to the body.
Fast forward to a few days ago, and I nicked my ankle with a razor in the shower. Well, the thing just wouldn’t stop bleeding for almost 20 minutes! But ankles bleed a lot, so I didn’t really think anything of it. Then, two nights ago, I cut my thumb with a kitchen knife. It was a small cut – nothing major – but even after 15 minutes of applying direct pressure, I still couldn’t get the bleeding to slow. It was then that I suddenly twigged to something: Omega-3’s are well known to cause thinning of the blood. This is actually a desirable effect in the unhealthy, overweight, hypertensive, heart disease-affected, sick and inflamed population that makes up the majority of our continent, but it can also be dangerous when your blood doesn’t need to be thinned.
For several months, I have been consuming Omega-3 supplements in the form of fish oils, based on Robb Wolf’s fish oil supplementation recommendations of 0.25 to 0.5 g per 10 lbs of body weight, for a healthy, active, Paleo-eating person. I now understand he is in the process of down-grading these numbers. Between 3 tsp (4.5 g) per day of high quality fish oil, Omega-3 enriched eggs, and all of the grass-fed beef we eat, I reckon my total Omega-3 consumption averages anywhere from 5-7 g per day.
Now, Omega-3’s are absolutely critical to fetal development, and as such, all pregnant women are recommended to consume foods rich in Omega-3’s (and/or fish oil supplements). But how much is too much? According to Health Canada and the FDA, the maximum daily consumption for an adult should be limited to 3 g (2 g if derived from supplements).
I personally believe this limit can be considerably higher for those who eat a less-than-ideal diet, especially one with an abundance of Omega-6’s. But because the Paleo diet is exceptionally low in pro-inflammatory Omega-6’s, and higher than average in Omega-3’s, there is a pretty good chance that I have been unintentionally over-supplementing Omega-3’s, which I now believe to be the cause of this most recent bout of bruising.
The last thing I want before I give birth is to have difficulty with blood clotting, so I am reducing my daily fish oil supplementation from 3 tsp to 1 tsp, to see if that has a mitigating effect on the bruising and bleeding I have been experiencing.