How Omega 3 fish oil can help with acne
Very few of us survive our teenage years completely blemish-free. But if you only started developing acne as you got older, having to deal with spots and wrinkles seems particularly unfair.
If you’re starting to suspect Mother Nature still thinks you’re a teenager, you’re not alone. A study reported found a 214% rise in the number of NZ adults seeking specialist acne treatment. More than one in three of these were aged over 35, while nine percent were over 55.
And the cause of this acne epidemic? One in four of the 92 private dermatology clinics taking part said it was due to our stressful lives, fluctuating hormones and poor diets.
Acne develops when your body over-produces a skin oil called sebum. Excess sebum and dead skin cells get clogged in the tiny hair follicles, creating an ideal environment for normal skin bacteria to multiply. When your immune system tries to fight back, it triggers the inflammatory response of acne - redness, swelling and pus-filled spots.
But while breakouts in young people tend to subside once the hormones that trigger acne settle down, adult acne has no set end point. To tackle the problem takes a holistic approach that involves topical solutions, managing stress and taking a close look at your diet - and this is where a good quality Omega 3 fish oil supplement can play such a vital role.
Taking Omega 3 supplements for acne could make your skin less prone to spots and blemishes. Not only do the essential fatty acids in Omega 3 fish oil benefit skin by soothing your body’s inflammatory response to excess sebum and bacteria, they can also tackle the root of the problem by helping to regulate acne-causing hormones, such as testosterone and androgen.
So what is the best Omega 3 supplement for hormonal acne?
The best Omega 3 supplements for hormonal acne are ones that contain the highest levels of EPA and DHA, because it’s these two essential fatty acids that have been shown to help regulate hormones and calm inflammation. Choose a clinical strength fish oil, as you can only get EPA and DHA from animal sources such as fatty fish and not from plant-based sources. Look out for fish oils that have been tested for toxins and don’t take them past the expiry date. If the oil is rancid, the delicate fatty acids can become damaged and can turn into skin-harming free radicals. After years of research have chosen BePure Three as our Omega 3 support. Not only is it the purest and highly concentrated but the fish used are small, not full of heavy metals and are sustainably sourced.
Can Omega 3 fish oil supplements help with acne?
The link between acne and the Western diet is strong and the evidence is mounting. Population-based studies reveal that in societies where people eat a non-Western diet, acne is virtually unheard of. In an article published in the Archives of Dermatology, a team of researchers studied 1,200 teens and adults in New Guinea and a remote part of Paraguay eating a diet of fruit, vegetables, seafood and lean meats and didn’t detect a single acne lesion in two years of study.
The Western diet, while being plentiful in inflammation causing Omega 6s (such as the vegetable and seed oils ubiquitous in processed food), is seriously lacking in longer chain Omega 3 fatty acids the body can’t make for itself. Some 150 years ago, the ratio of Omega 3 to 6 in our diets was 1:1 – now it’s closer to 1:15. Numerous studies show that being deficient in Omega 3 fatty acids can lead to a whole host of skin conditions, and acne is one of them.
Taking Omega 3 for your skin can benefit acne in three ways. First it can regulate hormones such as testosterone that trigger the overproduction of sebum. Secondly, its essential fatty acid EPA is converted in the body to powerful anti-inflammatory and antibacterial substances, soothing the inflammatory response. And thirdly, it can stop the liver producing a hormone called ‘insulin-like growth factor 1’ (IGF-1), which can in turn soothe spots.
How can Omega 3 help cure hormonal acne?
Much like acne in teens, adult acne also has a hormonal basis, which is why it is especially common in women during times of hormonal fluctuation, such as menstruation, pregnancy and menopause. The culprit in hormonal acne is usually testosterone, a male sex hormone that triggers spots by over-stimulating oil glands so they produce more sebum and by making skin cells more sticky and more likely to clog the hair follicles.
Taking Omega 3 for hormonal acne helps the body produce a family of hormones known as prostaglandins, which can regulate the amount of testosterone your body produces. In a 2013 study, women with polycystic ovarian syndrome who were given an Omega 3 supplement for eight weeks were found to have significantly lower levels of testosterone in their blood streams than at the start of the trial.
How much Omega 3 fish oil should I take for acne?
When it comes to daily doses of Omega 3 for acne, 2 - 4 capsules of a clinical strength fish oil such as BePure Three is enough. You’ll also need to wait at least two to four months to see an effect on your skin.
Just remember though, that not all Omega 3 fish oil supplements are created equally. The best fish oil for acne will have high levels of EPA and DHA per capsule or teaspoon, and this information will be easy to find, not buried in the small print.
BePure Three has all the essential fatty acids you need to get the full range of Omega 3 acne benefits, with 1026mg of Omega 3 (800mg of EPA, 800mg of DHA and 1400mg total of Omega 3s) in every single capsule.
Can Omega 3 fish oil give you acne?
If your skin is already greasy, you may be worried that eating more oils such as Omega 3 will make acne worse, particularly if you’ve heard how fish oil can benefit dry skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis.
But rather than making you produce more spot-inducing sebum, Omega 3 regulates its production, meaning it can help if your skin is dry or oily. And of course, it can soothe inflammation at the same time.
However, taking Omega 3 could make acne worse if your fish oil is rancid. Long-chain polyunsaturated fats like fish oil are fragile and prone to oxidation, which in the body could lead to oxidative stress - a key element in an acne breakout. An easy way to tell if your fish oil supplement has oxidised is if it has a strong fishy smell that repeats on you.
Keep your Omega 3 fish oil in the fridge and invest in good quality supplements, such as our BePure Three At Skinography we go to great lengths to minimise oxidation in all our products source.
How can Omega 3 help with acne scars?
Unless you’re Harry Potter, chances are you won’t see scars as a magical talking point. There are many different types of acne scars, from deep depressions called ice pick scars, wider depressions called boxcar scars, to raised and red patches known as keloid scars. There’s also a type called a hyper pigmentation, which is when a spot leaves a discoloured mark on the skin.
When you’re taking Omega 3 supplements to help acne, you might also notice an improvement in scarring, due to the effect the long-chain fatty acid EPA can have on collagen.
Depressed scars, such as the icepick and boxcar types, are formed when the body produces too little collagen in response to an injury. Consuming fish oil is known to have a beneficial effect on collagen and elastin in your body, thanks to its antioxidant properties.
Taking fish oil for acne scars could also help treat the red, inflamed looking keloids that particularly severe lesions leave behind. According to peer-reviewed journal Wounds, the EPA in fish oils inhibited the growth of keloid scars significantly.
So will it cure your acne?
For many, taking Omega 3 benefits skin dramatically but no two people are the same. Taking the best supplements for acne is a great start, but can Omega 3 cure acne on its own?
Declaring war on such a stubborn skin condition such as acne means fighting it on several fronts. And, while Omega 3 could turn out to be your skin’s secret weapon, it’s not the only one that should be in your arsenal. You’ll also need to manage stress levels, look at the products you put on your skin and reduce refined sugars.
Then, with all of these skin saviours on your side, your skin will be armed with everything it needs to win in the battle against blemishes.