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Does Fish Oil Improve Acne? Maybe, Maybe Not

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Updated June 04, 2014

Fish oil. It's been touted as good for lowering your cholesterol and cancer risk, keeping your mind sharp and your heart healthy. But what about for acne?

According to lots of of info on the web (not to mention about a million You Tube videos) fish oil is the perfect cure for acne.  Unfortunately, just like a lot of so-called "acne cures," there's not a lot of research backing this up.

This isn't to say that fish oil isn't good for you.  They're rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which are super healthy and necessary for a healthy body.  Omega-3 fights inflammation in the body, so there is some speculation that they may also reduce the inflammation that comes with acne.

Researchers conducted a very small study to see if fish oil would have any effect on acne breakouts.  Thirteen people with inflammatory acne were given fish oil supplements for 12 weeks. They didn't change anything else in their diet, and they didn't change their acne treatments either.

The fish oil wasn't a "super cure." Eight did see an improvement of their acne, while four of the participants saw their acne worsen. One didn't see change one way or another.

While it sounds promising, we have to remember that it was a very small study. It would have to be done with hundreds of participants before we really had a grasp of what fish oil can really do.

Plus, as we all have experienced, acne tends to come and go, all on its own. Sometimes our acne looks better; other times it's way, way worse. Maybe the fish oil didn't have anything to do with the improvement (or worsening) of their acne. It could have been just the natural waxing and waning of breakouts.

So, until there is more research done, there's still no proof that fish oil will do anything for your acne.  Maybe after more vigorous research will have a clearer view of what fish oil really does for acne breakouts.

Still, lots of people take fish oil for general health.  It certainly is a good idea to add more omega-3s into your diet anyway.  But fish oil supplements aren't the only way to go.  You can get omega-3s from many different food sources like flax seeds, soy, and walnuts.  (You can also just eat more fish! The About.com Guide to Longevity has a great article: Fish Vs. Fish Supplements you might want to check out.)

If you're interested in other ways omega-3s can help you, the article Omega 3 Fatty Acids - What You Need to Know, is a good one.

As for me, I try to eat my omega-3s rather than take a fish oil supplement.  Let's just say the aftertaste is kind of... yucky.  I don't think my skin minds one bit.

The Diet-Acne Connection:

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