How does fish oil benefit the skin?

Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)
Fish oil contains omega-3 fatty acids, which reduce inflammation throughout the entire body. Oily fish such as salmon and mackerel is considered a smart addition to a healthy diet.  

Fish oil may offer some limited protection from the sun. In one study, people who took fish oil supplements were a little more protected from the sun's ultraviolet rays. Yet researchers found that broad-spectrum sunscreens did a better job at protecting skin from the sun's damaging rays. Even if you eat fish or take omega-3 fatty acids, always apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 30 before going out into the sun.
Skin is the largest organ in the body and fish oil is useful to improve its cellular function and the appearance of our skin. Fish oil helps our skin remain smooth and retain its elasticity. Some believe it even prevents wrinkles.
Moisture is critical to our skin and the essential fatty acids found in Omega-3 fats in fish oil help us to retain this moisture. North Americans suffering from dry skin ailments like dandruff, eczema, and psoriasis may be indicative of a typical American diet deficient in omega-3. A fish oil supplement may even be more effective in treating these conditions than commercially sold moisturizers. However, there have been conflicting studies regarding the results of fish oil supplements abating the symptoms of psoriasis.

Skin conditions characterized by scaly, red skin, eczema and acne are indicators of inflammation. Since fatty acids found in fish oil are known to operate as anti-inflammatory agents, it may be that fish oil ingested as a supplement may lower the incidence of such skin afflictions.

While not a direct preventive measure to combat skin cancer, fish oil may hold promise as an indirect line of defense. Skin cancer develops when the skin's immune response system is damaged after overexposure to UV radiation. Research conducted on animals demonstrates supplemental fish oil helps to protect the immune system from this damage, thus it may offer some guard against skin cancer. Clinical trials on humans were started in 2009.

Continue Learning about Dietary Supplements

Dietary Supplements

Whether you're visiting the drug store, grocery or natural food shop you'll likely find an aisle where there are jars and bottles of things for you to put in your body that are neither foods nor medicines. Ranging from vitamins an...

d minerals to fiber and herbal remedies, these supplements are not regulated in the same way as either food or medicine. Some of them are backed by solid research, others are folk remedies or proprietary cures. If your diet does not include enough of certain vitamins or minerals, a supplement may be a good idea. Natural treatment for conditions like constipation may be effective. But because these substances are unregulated, it is always a good idea to educate yourself about the products and to use common sense when taking them. This is even more true if you are pregnant or taking a medicine that may be affected by supplements.

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.