2

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DHA causing acne?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created February 19, 2011 at 4:00 PM

I know I've been a bit of anomaly in what I've experienced on the Paleo diet. My diet was pretty clean before Paleo, so really the only foods Ive added to my diet are different kinds of meat (vegetarian before), and eliminated the rice, (occasional) corn, and legumes, and yogurt. No dairy now. And I've been off nuts for several weeks too to see if it would help my very inflamed liver and gallbladder. It hasn't. For years, I've eaten lots of nuts, ghee, coconut, and my acne was under control. I'm sure my omega 6 to 3 ratio was very high, but my body didn't have a lot of inflammation. After I cut out gluten a few years back, inflammation and acne virtually disappeared.

Three months ago, I also added in a DHA supplement. First from fish, then from algae. I've had cystic acne on my face - showed up about a week or two after I started the DHA. Week by week, it had gotten worse. Definitely worse around that time of the month. I didn't make the connection at first until I thought back to a few years ago. I tried fish oil caps and broke out. I tried flax oil and broke out. I was drinking soymilk that had algae DHA in it, and broke out. Is it from the elevated testosterone? I've not taken the DHA for 10 days now, and the breakouts are clearing. My GB and liver are still in distress, but that has eased up some as last week I cut my meat intake back to once a day or every other day, and have upped my greens to be the majority of my diet.

I've read about other people breaking out from DHA, but just wondering if anyone has theories on why? Oh, and I have done several liver cleanses in the past, so I think that sucker is pretty clean!

D83e454e794d761ab524814c0ff8f838

(531)

on June 14, 2011
at 03:10 AM

Yes, seaweed, including dulse doesn't have any negative on my skin. Fish oil also gives me terrible acne though.

D83e454e794d761ab524814c0ff8f838

(531)

on April 18, 2011
at 03:14 PM

I wasn't taking fish oil the last several times around, but actually a vegetarian DHA. Horrible acne. Stopped and the zits stopped. Started taking Sea Buckthorn, and haven't had one pimple since. Years ago, I was leaning toward hyperthyroid, but have corrected it.

Ce2deb4c58a06e73996d5f1fd3ddaacb

(145)

on April 17, 2011
at 07:54 PM

I have had the same problem. Fish oil, krill oil, flax seed oil all give me cystic acne. I really don't know why...But the pattern is very clear. I can eat all kinds of fish without any problems.

Cf626d3fba66c18297b3f1116a920e58

(3417)

on April 17, 2011
at 01:30 AM

Hm... now that you mention it, I've had a lot of dryness and some minor acne since I added fish oil supplements. I'll have to reconsider taking them.

06a881f308570df20903f87931b4c007

(30)

on March 30, 2011
at 10:17 PM

is there anything about DHA in particular verses EPA that might cause breakouts? don't they convert rather easily? perhaps the DHA was oxidized/not fresh? did you try a high quality fish oil like nordic naturals? some say they can take that without breaking out, but not other brands. maybe you are missing some GLA?

86f9e83c849a70233b6bf4b78d249d0f

(145)

on March 09, 2011
at 07:11 AM

Interesting, I am a sufferer of acne and never noticed anything wrong with DHA. I take 1 gram of DHA and 500mg of EPA from fish everyday. If DHA was a problem for acne and one wanted to suspend it, would EPA and ALA have enough of an anti-inflammatory kick of omega-3s for proper health?

D83e454e794d761ab524814c0ff8f838

(531)

on March 03, 2011
at 12:04 AM

Nice to know it's not just me. Though I'm not glad you're nine year old was getting acne. :( I don't think it's that it made my skin any oilier. Actually my scalp was dry, flaky and dandruff-y until I stopped. It makes me think it's having a major impact on my hormones, which doesn't make me comfortable!

D83e454e794d761ab524814c0ff8f838

(531)

on March 03, 2011
at 12:02 AM

Never noticed sensitivities to these things in the past. I've only had one very small zit since eliminating the DHA - and there is no way I'm trying it again.

35a8b223ae5d863f17a8c9e3a8eed5eb

(571)

on March 02, 2011
at 09:03 PM

It's definitely the DHA, because a lot of sufferers get outbreaks even from fishes. I've read it so often.

D83e454e794d761ab524814c0ff8f838

(531)

on February 22, 2011
at 03:24 AM

Paul, do you think it's throwing my hormones out of whack?

D83e454e794d761ab524814c0ff8f838

(531)

on February 22, 2011
at 03:22 AM

Thanks Paul. John C - not fish oil, but DHA from algae, by Spectrum. Though before that it was DHA from fish. I was taking between 125-600 mg a day, depending on what I ate that day.

8eeb3f0c36d17117a0758ad4a9c15872

(60)

on February 21, 2011
at 07:30 PM

what brand and how much fish oil are you taking?

35a8b223ae5d863f17a8c9e3a8eed5eb

(571)

on February 19, 2011
at 04:38 PM

Yes it's very common! I throw my Krill Oil Capsules in the trash, because they were promoting oily skin for me. Some people tend to think very simplistic. Acne = inflammatory conditon (not the whole picture) Fish Oil = anti-inflammatory therefore upping the intake of DHA is good. But that's totally wrong and so far, i've only read about the bad outcomes from acne sufferer. Whenever here is a new acne thread, one of my advices is to throw away all the DHA supps. PUFA in excess could be the problem. You could test it by eating the same amount of vegetable oil instead of the DHA Fish Oil.

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8 Answers

1
918ecd2369c4e8cd6a2d66846c20137c

on April 18, 2011
at 09:33 PM

I'm in my 40's with no history of acne, but after I started paleo in May 2010, I experienced severe breakouts of acne for several months, mostly on my chest, shoulders and back.

Paleo was a big departure from my pescatarian/vegetarian/vegan diets of the previous ten years. These were very low fat diets [~10% with almost no sat fat], but still I was getting a fair amt of n-3 fats from fish and fish oil supplements.

When I went paleo, my fat content went from 10% to 70% [50% saturated], and I started taking huge qtys of fish oil, per Robb Wolf's calculator.

Over time the breakouts became less frequent and less severe. I've had zero acne for the past 5+ mos.

Not sure what triggered the acne - probably just my body adjusting to the radical increase in overall fats, but it may have been due to the 10-20g of EPA/DHA I was supplementing.

My dietary fat content continues to be in the 60-70% range, but I've cut way back on the fish oil supplementation [1-2g per day].

1
83102bdc3c589f4d32fde38e30fd8393

on March 02, 2011
at 08:16 PM

We gave my daughter DHA supplements for children thinking it would help her concentration. Within a week, she started to get acne (she is nine). I went into complete panic mode fearing she was hitting puberty way too fast. For about three months she was taking the supplements, and we could barely control the breakouts. Unrelatedly, I stopped the supplements (I didn't feel they were helping the concentration issue). Guess what? Her acne is gone. We're going on week 3 with not so much as a blemish. There must be some connection . . . not sure this is answers your question, though.

D83e454e794d761ab524814c0ff8f838

(531)

on March 03, 2011
at 12:04 AM

Nice to know it's not just me. Though I'm not glad you're nine year old was getting acne. :( I don't think it's that it made my skin any oilier. Actually my scalp was dry, flaky and dandruff-y until I stopped. It makes me think it's having a major impact on my hormones, which doesn't make me comfortable!

Cf626d3fba66c18297b3f1116a920e58

(3417)

on April 17, 2011
at 01:30 AM

Hm... now that you mention it, I've had a lot of dryness and some minor acne since I added fish oil supplements. I'll have to reconsider taking them.

0
64433a05384cd9717c1aa6bf7e98b661

(15236)

on August 30, 2011
at 04:24 PM

In some people (including myself) too much DHA can cause overactivity of the sebaceous glands and cause acne.

0
6235e0b7e3c4c4b9df3d926829bc32f6

(333)

on June 11, 2011
at 11:03 PM

My two cents: I used to take a ton of flaxseed oil (8-10g/day) and it improved my acne. I used to take fish oil too but I don't think that had any effect. I switched to flaxseed oil because it had more omega-3 per capsule, although I'm not taking any supplements right now except 50mg zinc/day (for my acne).

0
24749e1c6381cecab78fa60b2f7a4ff9

on June 11, 2011
at 06:33 PM

There's iodine in algae as well and I am assuming this is the culprit. I took Deva Vegan DHA awhile back and experienced outbreaks.

Interestingly, I just reintroduced iodine into my diet via dulse and haven't had any skin issues.

D83e454e794d761ab524814c0ff8f838

(531)

on June 14, 2011
at 03:10 AM

Yes, seaweed, including dulse doesn't have any negative on my skin. Fish oil also gives me terrible acne though.

0
Fa9f340eddbad9a544184c688fa4dcdd

(6433)

on April 16, 2011
at 11:55 PM

It could be that the fish oil is triggering your acne, but that the DHA isn’t the culprit. Like all marine products, fish oil contains high levels of iodine, which in observational studies has been shown to trigger/exacerbate acne. The exact mechanism is still poorly understood, but thyroid function (directly linked to iodine intake) manifests itself in the skin e.g. hypothyroid sufferers often note that their pores have become enlarged. Also many poor quality fish oils often have high levels of pollutants, which could also be triggering your acne.

On a more positive note, zinc supplementation is as effective at treating acne as oral antibiotics, without any of the side effects.

D83e454e794d761ab524814c0ff8f838

(531)

on April 18, 2011
at 03:14 PM

I wasn't taking fish oil the last several times around, but actually a vegetarian DHA. Horrible acne. Stopped and the zits stopped. Started taking Sea Buckthorn, and haven't had one pimple since. Years ago, I was leaning toward hyperthyroid, but have corrected it.

0
27991530e3dac063162ef43d2ae201e1

on April 16, 2011
at 11:25 PM

Well, I've been reading books about boosting midlife brain performance, so I got a whole lot of supplements and starting breaking out right away. Strange! I was just considering adding DHA - I've just heard of it but have never taken it. When I am out of stock on my many vitamins, my face is clear...my brain isn't. It's Catch-22. NO idea what's causing this at all. It's surely not DHA in my case.

0
A0b8c4cc369f93ee987ce15b1bf323fe

on March 02, 2011
at 08:53 PM

All of the DHA / fish oil supplements that I've seen contain soy lecithin, glycerin, and/or some type of starch to create the capsule film. Could it be that you are sensitive to these substances? If you decide to stick with the DHA, you may want to try a liquid version that eliminates the gel capsule substances.

35a8b223ae5d863f17a8c9e3a8eed5eb

(571)

on March 02, 2011
at 09:03 PM

It's definitely the DHA, because a lot of sufferers get outbreaks even from fishes. I've read it so often.

D83e454e794d761ab524814c0ff8f838

(531)

on March 03, 2011
at 12:02 AM

Never noticed sensitivities to these things in the past. I've only had one very small zit since eliminating the DHA - and there is no way I'm trying it again.

86f9e83c849a70233b6bf4b78d249d0f

(145)

on March 09, 2011
at 07:11 AM

Interesting, I am a sufferer of acne and never noticed anything wrong with DHA. I take 1 gram of DHA and 500mg of EPA from fish everyday. If DHA was a problem for acne and one wanted to suspend it, would EPA and ALA have enough of an anti-inflammatory kick of omega-3s for proper health?

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