View Full Version : Fish oil and acne

Margie Lempert
02-14-2008, 07:03 PM
I've recently had some unusually bad acne, which has coincided with a new diligence in taking fish oil. I thought the acne was due to digestive backup, but I read someone's post on crossfit saying that every time he tries to take fish oil, he breaks out immediately. Got me thinking... Does anyone know about fish oil leading to acne? I know this is a seemingly counterintuitive thing since fish oil, omega 3, etc is beneficial for the skin. But could there be a contraindication for some people?

Mike ODonnell
02-14-2008, 07:24 PM
Perhaps it is an allergic reaction to some fillers or impurity in a particular brand? Is it caps or liquid? Acme is a kind of inflammation, so one would assume long term use would only help....short term I can not say specifically. One could also go down the road of somehow it allows a detoxification through which the skin is the largest detox organ....but that I am no expert at.

Margie Lempert
02-14-2008, 07:37 PM
I've been taking Nordic Naturals caps. Yes, the detox argument could very well be a valid one. I was thinking I'd stop taking them for a bit, see if things clear up and then start again to see what happens. A reasonable plan?


Gittit Shwartz
02-15-2008, 05:35 AM
I recently went through a 3 week fish oil megadosing phase (36 grams a day) - while doing a "velocity" type diet with whey protein. I used the highest quality, purest, pharmaceutical grade fish oil imported and kept in refrigeration. I felt great, but I did notice that I was suddenly getting blackheads on my chin. I'm not at all prone to acne, and there was no inflammation around them. I blamed it on the whey, but the detox explanation makes sense.

Garrett Smith
02-15-2008, 05:51 AM
I'd say you have two main options to find out about what the fish oil is doing.

One is to stay on it, see if you can push through this possible "detox" of your skin, and see what happens after a month or two.

The other is to stop and then restart. Note that if there is some sort of "detox" that needs to happen and you don't finish it now, you will have to finish it later.

Mike ODonnell
02-15-2008, 07:35 AM
I agree with Dr G...that you may have to just push through the detox to see if that is what it is...cause who the hell knows how much is built up that needs to get out? Fish oil (since it improves liver function and increases fat loss) may just be accelerating the release of toxins from fat storage.

Try this.....drink a crap load of water every day...1 gallon at least....see if that helps in the flush. Sauna treatments may help to assist in increasing the sweating and detox affect.

Outside of some allergic reaction I do not really know....one of those things...just stick with it and see what happens. You may need to go through a period of bad skin to end up healthy in the long run.

Allen Yeh
02-15-2008, 08:18 AM
My wife had increased skin oil in the first month or so she started taking a tablespoon of Carlson's since then thought it's been smooth sailing.

Margie Lempert
02-15-2008, 10:15 AM
Thank you all so much - this is extremely helpful and makes a lot of sense. I've been upping my fish intake in general, as well as flaxmeal and hemp butter. And I've been working on the paleo thing... still throwing in a little dairy a few times (mostly cultured) a week and a bite of non-paleo food here and there, but doing pretty well. I certainly feel pretty great already. Anyway, I will push through, as suggested and see if my skin eventually clears up.

By the way, I am new to the PM boards and I have to say it is an almost shockingly incredible resource. I am continually amazed and inspired by, and grateful to, the crossfit et al community.

Thanks again!

Garrett Smith
02-15-2008, 11:14 AM
If you are feeling better in general, that's another good sign that this is just a bit of detoxification.

I go by mental state quite a bit when determining whether or not reactions such as yours are movement in the positive or negative direction.

Tony Ferous
02-15-2008, 05:28 PM
Ive taken fish oil for years(3-5g daily), and flax oil before that, and always had some facial acne(im 34), ive constantly analysed my full paleo diet for the reason.
4 weeks ago i stopped taking these oils and continued the paleo diet with fats from olive oil, avocado, almonds, eggs, with protein and veg at every meal, and ive had NO acne, skins a little dry i admit.

As mentioned sounds counter intuitive, but how much detox could i need after years of paleo diet and omega 3s?! I would think that my omega 3 to 6 balance is 'bad' on this diet, ie 1-5 at least.

Ive read cordains acne diet book, but this is what ive experienced. Individuality sucks eh?! ;-)

Margie Lempert
02-15-2008, 08:52 PM
So interesting Tony! So, no flax oil either? Hmmm. I typically go for ground flax over oil so I can get the fiber. I wonder if that matters...

Anyway, I guess it's really about experimenting at the end of the day.

Just out of curiosity - since you did take fish and flax oil for so long, have you noticed any other changes now that you're off them?

Tony Ferous
02-16-2008, 04:44 PM
Ive not noticed anything major since going 'cold turkey' to be honest, too early to ascertain changes in body fat.
As a side point, I used to notice that when i whan away on holiday(and had no omega 3 oil) that ive have less acne, but assumed this was due to lower stress levels.
I also used to grind flax, but i became suspicious that it too might provoke acne(lectins perhaps? i dont think thats been studied), but dont hold me to this! I do take hemp protein powder now and it works well for me.

I'll probably add back the fish oil in 2 weeks time and see if anything erupts!