Healthy Skin Makeover

Are Fish Oil Supplements Good for the Skin?

Our expert dermatologist explains how fish oil benefits skin.



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Q: Ive heard that fish oil supplements with their omega-3 fatty acids are good for the skin. Is that true?

A: Absolutely. Fish oil contains two main types of omega-3 fatty acids: docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). DHA keeps the brain functioning properly. And EPA greatly benefits skin by regulating oil production to boost hydration and prevent acne, and by delaying the skins aging process to stave off wrinkles. A 2005 study in the Journal of Lipid Research discovered that EPA can help block the release of the UV-induced enzymes that eat away at our collagen, causing lines and sagging skin. Because EPA is both an antioxidant and an anti-inflammatory agent, it can protect against sun damage and help repair it.

Most of us dont get enough omega-3s in our diets—oily fish like herring, mackerel, salmon, anchovies, and tuna are the best sources—so its a good idea to take a supplement. Look for one that contains 180 milligrams of EPA and 120 milligrams of DHA; take one capsule with each meal, for a total of three per day. (Try Barleans Organic Fish Oil, $20.) If youre pregnant, talk to your doctor before adding a supplement to your diet.
Doris Day, MD
Last Updated: March 26, 2009

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