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Angela Palmer

Does Fish Oil Improve Acne? Maybe, Maybe Not

By December 16, 2012

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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:

December 28, 2012 at 7:09 pm
(1) Omegafort SCC says:

While you’re certainly right to be cautious about the small sampling size of the study reported in Lipids in Health and Disease, as well as extravagant “magic pill” claims, it is nonetheless clear that acne is much more prevalent in societies such as ours, in which most people’s diets have a strong imbalance between insufficient omega-3 and overabundant omega-6. And more than a half century of research has pretty clearly documented to the satisfaction of many of the world’s most respected medical and scientific authorities the ability of essential fatty acids to benefit various aspects of human health – including dermatological conditions. Omega-3’s have been proven to be effective against various types of inflammation, and in the case of acne this means suppressing the production of inflammatory cytokines, thereby reducing acne severity. So yes, by all means acne and omega-3 should be studied more extensively – and in the meantime we are of course very encouraged by these findings. We invite your interested readers to browse the large volume of independently researched information we have curated on omega-3/fish oil as they relate to dermatology and various other aspects of human health on our Web site http://www.ExpertOmega3.com.

December 30, 2012 at 5:43 pm
(2) About.com Acne Guide says:

Thanks for your comment! I certainly agree that omega-3s are incredibly important, and most of us don’t get enough in our diets. There’s no doubt that increasing the amount of these essential fatty acids in our diets can positively impact our health, including the health of our skin.

Acne is a complex problem, though, so I don’t want people to think that all they have to do is take fish oil supplements and their skin will clear up. Could it help? Maybe. But it’s not a cure all for acne. It could be part of a more complete acne treatment, though.

The human body is so interesting! It’s amazing the things we’re still learning about it.

I appreciate the information you’ve shared with us!

May 13, 2013 at 9:28 pm
(3) Danielle says:

I m 32 and I had acne since I was 13 and I really tried everything you can imagine, and the only thing that Worked was fish oil, my skin is sooooo much great. People should. Try it.

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