Fish oil supplementation and acne


Acne occurs most often during puberty and affects both women and men. It is more common in developed countries than in less industrialized regions, and is characterized by seborrhea and formation of comedones, pustules and papules in areas rich in sebaceous glands, although not all of these disorders are present in the same person. It can be caused by different factors (genetic predisposition, hormonal abnormalities, immunological disorders, psychological, and environmental factors) but there is also a link between diet and acne. Evidence shows that high glycemic load diets may exacerbate it and dairy intake also appears to be associated with it.

Acne is closely related to Western diet. Persons with acne should balance total calorie uptake and restrict refined carbohydrates, milk, dairy products, saturated fats, and trans-fats. A paleolithic-like diet enriched in vegetables and fish is recommended. Populations who follow it (low glycemic load, no milk and dairy consumption), such as the Kitavan islanders of Papua New Guinea, the Ache hunters in Paraguay, the Inuit, and adolescents of rural areas of Brazil, are examples of acne-free populations.

Omega-3 fatty acids are promising dietary supplements in nutrition therapy of acne. EPA (an omega-3 fatty acid) inhibits conversion of arachidonic acid (an omega-6 fatty acid) into leukotriene B4, a substance that regulates sebum production. They can also to lower insulin-like growth factor-1 (the major growth hormone of puberty) levels, which correlate with the manifestation of acne. Nutrients that increase the levels of this hormone have been identified as the most critical inducers of acne. In a recent study, dietary supplementation of acne patients with 2 g EPA and DHA significantly decreased inflammatory and noninflammatory acne lesions.



  • Khayef G, Young J, Burns-Whitmore B et al. Effects of fish oil supplementation on inflammatory acne. Lipids Health Dis. 2012; 11: 165.
  • Kucharska A, Szmurło A, Sińska B. Significance of diet in treated and untreated acne vulgaris. Postepy Dermatol Alergol. 2016 Apr;33(2):81-6. doi: 10.5114/ada.2016.59146. Epub 2016 May 16.
  • Melnik BC. Linking diet to acne metabolomics, inflammation, and comedogenesis: an update. Clin Cosmet Investig Dermatol. 2015 Jul 15;8:371-88. doi: 10.2147/CCID.S69135. eCollection 2015.

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