Do Fish Oil Supplements Cure Dry Skin?

Last Editorial Review: 6/26/2017

Ask the experts

My skin gets very dry in the winter, and my mother-in-law suggested that I take fish oil capsules or flaxseed oil capsules. Will these help my skin? What food should I eat to combat dry skin?

Doctor's response

The kind of dry skin that you are describing is most likely being caused by the dry heat that you are being exposed to by being indoors during the winter. The only dietary recommendation that has been proven to help with this is to increase your fluid intake. The best source of fluids for this would be water and/or seltzer. You will also get fluids from vegetables, soups, and fruit. I would not recommend relying on anything containing alcohol as they tend to be high in calories and would also act as a diuretic, causing you to lose fluids. There are things outside of your diet that you can do to help with your skin.

There are numerous health benefits to increasing your consumption of omega-3 fatty acids, but improving dry skin is not one of them. This does not necessarily mean that it won't help your skin; it just means that it has not been proven to do so. According to the American Heart Association, research has shown that omega-3 fatty acids

The recommendation is to get your omega-3 fats from fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, lake trout, herring, sardines, and albacore tuna at least twice a week. Children and pregnant and nursing women may be at increased risk of exposure to the mercury in fish, so these recommendations would not be suitable for them. You can also get some of your omega-3 fats from tofu and other forms of soybeans, canola, walnuts and flaxseed, and their oils. You can begin to incorporate these into your diet to see if they help with your dry skin. Remember, more is not necessarily better. So, there is no need to take excessive amounts of any of these food items.

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Medically reviewed by John A. Daller, MD; American Board of Surgery with subspecialty certification in surgical critical care


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