Krill Oil, fish oil, cod liver oil – are any of these marine supplements good for acne?
Personally I think something smells a little fishy…
However, judging by one or two of the emails I had following my assessment of fish oil and cod liver oil – and how on the whole, they have the potential to do more harm than good for acne – I seem to have hit on what I will politely call “a debate”.
A minority, it seems, will vociferously defend fish oil till the death.
Hey, I’m not in the business of blanket statements, just facts, science and research – so if fish oil works for you (and you know it’s definitely the fish oil giving you the benefits) then by all means, take it.
But never one to shy away from debate, I’m going to pick up on one such message now (the spelling and grammar mistakes are not mine):
I read your post on fish oil and cod liver oil and acne and I wanted to write because I think you might be misinformed.
I have taken fish oil for over three years with tablets worth 935mg of EPA and DHA and my skin is now looking much better. I also started taking zinc and selenium because they enhance the beneficial affects of the fish oil.
I will say for a while I tried Krill Oil and that did break me out until I got my acne back under control with fish oil pills so like you said in your article you do have to be specific about what you take but cod liver oil has no benefit over normal fish oil in my opinion.
Keep up the good work though man, normally what you post about makes sense.
[Tom has given his permission for me to use his email in this post – thanks for being a good sport, Tom]
OK, back-handed compliments aside, this gentleman’s email may well be perfectly true.
I’m not denying some people report that fish oil supplements improve their acne.
Omega 3 can be anti-inflammatory and this will very much depend – on a highly individual level – on your ratio of omega 3 to omega 6, your diet and how you metabolize these oils.
However, these people do seem to be in the minority.
The more astute among you will have noticed that the email above clearly references zinc and selenium as more recent additions to the supplements the guy was taking.
Do you think perhaps these may have helped? By his own admission, he’s started getting better recently but credits this to the fish oil (which he’s taken for three years) finally having a positive effect thanks to the zinc and selenium.
It’s it just more logical to assume that he was deficient in zinc? It’s exactly what helped my acne!
And coupled with this, as I said in this post, selenium is a master antioxidant by itself and can also boost the inflammation-fighting power of zinc, making it far more likely this combination of supplements has given him acne relief.
I have to say that persevering with fish oil for three years does not inspire much confidence that it actually works. If you’d taken magic beans for three years and experienced no benefit, would you keep buying them?
As I said in my email reply, if Tom is confident enough with his skin right now to drop the fish oil for a month and get back to me I’d love to hear an update – please do this Tom.
So let’s now take the fish oil discussion a stage further and go into what Tom says about Krill Oil.
Krill Oil, Fish Oil and acne
Must admit, I’ve taken some off-the-wall health food junk in my years trying to get rid of acne. The best (or worst) by far has to be Bovine Tracheal Cartilage.
Yes, you read that right and no, it didn’t work. But never Krill Oil, so I’m afraid I can’t give you a comment based on personal experience.
I can give you the facts, though, and you can make your own mind up on this one:
- Krill Oil is harvested from krill (those tiny crustaceans eaten by whales in the Antarctic)
- Like fish oil, it contains EPA and DHA (the key omega 3 fatty acids)
- It also contains vitamins D, A and E – all of which can be great for acne (but which you can supplement individually, without the potential inflammatory effects of extra PUFAs)
- The supposedly unique antioxidant astaxanthin is also found in Krill Oil. I can’t quite see how our bodies can be crying out for this miracle ingredient though, because how on earth are we supposed to get it naturally? The early humans from which we evolved did not, to my knowledge, harvest shoals of krill from the freezing oceans.
- Krill oil’s omega 3 comes in the form of phospholipids (whereas fish oil contains triglycerides) making them much easier for your to absorb and increasing the potency of Krill Oil by about 48 times!
So, given that fish oil breaks many guys out because of the concentration of highly-reactive omega 3’s, which use up an alarming amount of anti-oxidants in the body and if eaten in excess, cause an inflammatory cascade of acne-promoting reactions…
You tell me, is Krill Oil likely to be better for acne, or worse?!
So, do I recommend Krill Oil for acne?
No. I see no reason why Krill Oil has any advantages over fermented cod liver oil and to be honest I don’t even recommend that.
If anything, the more potent Krill Oil has a greater chance of breaking you out than fish oil, so I’d put it bottom of the marine-based supplements heap.