Omega-3 algae supplements may help ease acne: study

Is this the sea-cret to clear skin?

Acne sufferers may benefit from following a Mediterranean diet and taking omega-3 fatty acid supplements derived from algae, a new study out of Germany finds.

The research, published Wednesday in the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, followed 60 people who had suffered from mild to moderate acne for years. Participants were mostly women, in their mid-20s, who were not on prescription acne medication.

Acne sufferers may benefit from following a Mediterranean diet and taking omega-3 fatty acid supplements derived from algae, a new study out of Germany finds. Here are some before and after pics from the research. Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology

Most reported dissatisfaction with their prior acne treatments — and nearly all had omega-3 deficiencies at the start of the study.

Omega-3s are essential for cell function, especially in the eyes and heart. The body does not naturally produce them, but they can be obtained from foods such as fish, walnuts, flax seeds and leafy vegetables.

The body does not naturally produce omega-3s, but they can be obtained from foods such as fish, walnuts, flax seeds and leafy vegetables. Alamy Stock Photo

Omega-3s — notably EPA and DHA — have anti-inflammatory powers. Research has suggested these healthy fats can ease acne, an inflammatory skin condition, but evidence has not been conclusive.

A healthy, balanced diet that keeps blood sugar levels steady can help in the battle against blemishes. Blood sugar spikes can cause inflammation and spur the body to produce excess sebum, an oily substance that can lead to acne.

For this study, participants were encouraged to follow a plant-focused Mediterranean diet of unprocessed, seasonal and nutrient-dense ingredients and avoid ultra-processed foods, dairy products and meat.

The volunteers took omega-3 supplements sourced from algae and containing EPA and DHA with their main meal of the day. The dosage ramped up over the 16-week study.

Omega-3 fatty acid levels were around 4.9% at the start. Those who surpassed the target of 8% experienced a significant reduction in the severity of their acne, the researchers said.

Acne is the most common skin condition in the US. Alamy Stock Photo

“Lifestyle interventions, including dietary recommendations, should not be considered in opposition to prescription medications, but rather as a valuable adjunct to any modern acne treatment plan,” said corresponding study author Dr. Anne Guertler of the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich.

Guertler’s team noted a few people dropped from the study because their acne worsened.

The omega-3 dosage should be adjusted in future studies so all participants can reach the target level, the researchers said. Further research should also evaluate if being at the upper end of the range, around 11%, yields additional benefits.

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