Does fish oil help acne? Does fish oil cause acne? Is the high omega 3 fatty acid content of fish oil good or bad for acne? We’ll answer all these questions in this post, starting with what research says about fish oil and acne.
Research found that fish oil reduces acne in some and worsens in others.
So the answer is – it depends.
The study found that fish oil supplements reduced moderate to severe acne, but worsened mild acne.
How fish oil affects acne
Fish oil is a direct source of omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA, essential fatty acids that our body needs but cannot make. Acne is mainly an inflammatory disease. Omega-3 fatty acids such as those in fish oil reduce internal inflammation and keep acne in check.
Fish oil also has a mood enhancing effect. We have already seen the connection between acne and stress.
Cod liver oil versus fish oil
Cod liver oil is derived from the liver of cod fish, whereas fish oil is derived from the whole flesh of fish like anchovies and sardines. Cod liver additionally contains some vitamin A and D, both of which are good for acne. Fish oil contains greater amounts of EPA and DHA than cod liver oil.
Can I just eat fish?
Eating fish may not be enough to provide the amount of EPA and DHA fatty acids that you need to keep acne-causing inflammation level down. Also, there are concerns about mercury and other contaminants being present in fish.
If you are seeing improvements with adding fish to your diet, by all means continue with it. You may add fish supplements to enhance the amount of omega-3’s you’re getting.
Side effects of taking fish oil
Side effects include fishy breath and frequent burps.
Is it harmful in any way to consume fish oil? Can you overdose on fish oil? Fish oil taken in large amounts can interfere with the body’s immune system, lowering its response. Taking less than 3 grams per day is safe for most people.
Just like in real fish, there is a risk of mercury and other contaminants in fish oil. Good brands ensure that their product is refined multiple times to remove all contaminants.
If you are allergic to fish, then you could have an allergic reaction to fish oil capsules too. So watch out for that.
If you have diabetes or high blood pressure or you are pregnant or nursing, do check with a doctor before taking these supplements. Too much fish oil can worsen symptoms of Bipolar Disorder and depression.
Applying fish oil on the skin
You might be wondering if applying fish oil to the skin can help in the same way. I don’t know. One would think that it being an oil after all could clog pores before it can benefit in any way.
My experience with fish oil
I used fish oil in the past mainly for health reasons. I started out using Seacod cod liver oil capsules and I may have seen some skin clearing benefits. But I can’t say for sure since I was taking other supplements as well during that time.
I’m currently using Nature’s Bounty Odorless Fish Oil*. I’m seeing pretty good results with it.
I take one capsule with breakfast and sometimes, one more after dinner. The recommended dose on the label is 2 capsules twice a day – making it a total of 4. I noticed that taking more than 2 capsules a day makes me sluggish.
Fish oil capsules can cause frequent burps with a fishy smell. The brand I’m using doesn’t do that since it uses enteric coating which means the capsules gets used up in the intestines and not in the stomach. This prevents fishy burps.
Now for the moment of truth. Is it helping my skin? Yes, totally.
My daily vitamin supplement, which I’m stuck with for the time being, contains free iodine. So if I take it for a few days continuously, my skin starts to break out.
Fish oil has helped immensely in keeping such breakouts in check. Any cystic acne or smaller breakouts “heal” within a matter of 24-72 hours. By healing, I don’t mean drying it out like crazy – by healing I mean, the pimples kind of disappear, like they got absorbed into the skin.
The healing rate of the skin has increased greatly overall.
When I started out with the capsules, my skin dried out a little bit. I could feel a stretchy feeling on my face. But it all got sorted out within a week or so and I don’t experience dryness now.
My skin has a glow now, which I didn’t think was possible by simply taking supplements. I’m seeing a definite difference in my stamina and happiness levels. All this from a month of using fish oil capsules.
A commonly reported side effect of fish oil is better sleep and vivid dreams. I did notice that.
I’m not sure if I will continue to use fish oil on a daily basis, but so far things look good.
If you are already pretty healthy, you’re probably not going to see such a big difference. In my case, there is a lot of scope for health improvement, given my numerous allergies (heredity, hormonal).
Give fish oil a whirl and see how it works for you. Don’t give up on it if a brand doesn’t work that well for you. For example, the tiny capsules of Seacod probably weren’t enough dosage to make a dent in my acne.
*This is not a recommendation for Nature’s Bounty fish oil – it is just something I am using currently. You go with whatever works best for you.