Fish oil is a popular supplement high in omega-3 essential fatty acids and other nutrients that support our overall health. You may have heard about its heart-healthy benefits. While this is true, some suggest that it may benefit our hair, too.
Keep reading to learn if fish oil contributes to hair health and reduces hair loss. This article will explain what fish oil is, how to use it, the suggested dose, possible side effects, and other ways to increase your omega-3 intake.
Fish oil is the oil extracted from oily fish like salmon, herring, and mackerel. It is a popular supplement for its omega-3 fatty acid content. It is a high source of two specific omega-3 fatty acids: DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and EPA (docosahexaenoic acid). While there are many types of omega-3s, most of the research on fish oil pertains to DHA and EPA. Omega-3 fatty acids are considered “essential” because our bodies cannot synthesize them. We need to obtain them through diet or supplementation.
These nutrients are essential for forming structures of our cell membranes. Omega-3s help form our retina and brain structure, provide energy to the body, support cardiovascular functions, and much more. This article will dive into another potential benefit of supporting hair growth.
Let’s start from the beginning. What role does hair play in our body’s health?
Hair serves many functions including regulating body temperature and protecting sensitive areas around the body. There are three stages of natural hair growth: anagen (growth), catagen (regression), and telogen (rest). The anagen stage lasts three to five years, during which primary hair growth occurs and makes up 85% to 90% of your hair follicles. The catagen phase is the transitional stage, where the hair stops growing. This only lasts a few weeks and then converts into the telogen phase. The telogen phase lasts about three months and is a resting period where hair begins to shed.
Some components that aid this process include adequate nutrition, genetics, and hormones. Nutrition deficiencies, such as B vitamin deficiencies, are commonly associated with poor hair health. Advanced age, malnutrition, malabsorption due to digestive issues and medication use can all contribute to nutrient deficiencies. Speak with your doctor if you suspect you may be experiencing any of these concerns.
Unfortunately, there is no quick fix for faster hair growth. Still, while we do need more conclusive research, we are seeing positive trends in fish oil supplements supporting hair health. Outside of the omega-3 content, fish oil also provides nutrients, like vitamins A and D, that are beneficial for our overall health.
A 2015 study showed that women taking a combination of omega-3s and omega-6s with antioxidants reduced the telogen “rest” phase and increased the anagen “growth” phase. After six months, women reported an improvement in hair diameter and density.
This 2018 study found that the topical use of mackerel-derived fermented fish oil extract promoted hair growth in the anagen phase while reducing the telogen phase. DHA (the main omega 3 found in the extract) also increased the production of dermal papilla cells (DPC), which are essential in regulating hair growth.
It is important to take into account that this study was conducted on mice. While the results seem promising, more research with human hair samples is needed.
Fish oil may help with hair loss. In this same 2015 study, the majority of women reported a reduction in hair loss at six months.
Hair loss affects people of all genders. As mentioned, there are a variety of factors that can contribute to hair loss, such as nutritional deficiencies and oxidative stress. Supplements can support healthy hair when it comes to these factors.
There is no conclusive recommendation for the amount of fish oil to consume for hair growth. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) suggests adequate intake of omega-3s to be 1.1-1.6 g. The NIH reports that consumption of DHA and EPA from foods contributes to a very small amount of the daily omega-3 intake in children, teens, and adults. The use of dietary supplements containing omega-3s can help individuals meet the recommended intake.
Be sure to consult with your physician before introducing a new supplement to your daily routine. Your doctor can suggest the right amount of fish oil for our health and longer-term health goals. They will consider your medications and other supplements to decide whether a new supplement would be a helpful addition to your current routine.
Simply using fish oil topically has shown positive results in preliminary studies however more clinical trials are needed before any conclusions are made.
Fish oil can also be obtained through the diet. Rich sources of fish oil include salmon, mackerel, herring, sardines, and tuna. At least two servings of fatty fish per week have been shown to benefit heart health. You can get omega-3s from plant-based sources like walnuts, flaxseeds, and certain plant oils. Algae oil is a vegan alternative. However, it is often recommended to get your omega-3s from fatty fish because only a fraction of plant-based sources are as bioavailable (or as easily absorbed).
Fish oil supplements may have mild side effects. Some of these include:
Other more severe side effects are negative drug interactions. Fish oil can slow blood clotting, which may interfere with anticoagulant medications, such as warfarin (Coumadin). Speak with your healthcare provider to avoid serious side effects.
Fish oil contains essential fatty acids, DHA and EPA. These are important for the body’s daily functioning. Since our body does not produce these, we need to get them from diet or supplements.
Consuming fish oil through food will come with other nutrients and benefits. Dietary supplements come in handy to make sure you are getting an adequate amount regularly. Small studies are discovering that fish oil containing DHA and EPA may boost hair growth and density while reducing hair loss. This is an exciting area of research that can be further explored with additional human trials.
The contents and quality of supplements can vary significantly. Anyone interested in a supplement should research reputable brands before purchasing. Confirm the brand and dosage with your healthcare provider to check if it is a safe addition to your medication and supplement routine. See Care/ of’s omega supplement to learn how our fish oil is formulated.