One of the most intriguing benefits of omega-3 fatty acids, which are abundant in fish oil, is that they help you grow long, shiny locks.
Lynne J. Goldberg, MD, director of the Boston Medical Center’s hair clinic, states that Omega-3 fatty acids cannot be made in the body. DHA and EPA are found in fish and seafood, while plant-based foods like walnuts and flaxseed have alpha-linolenic acids or ALA. A fraction of this is then converted to EPA and DHA by the National Institutes of Health. Omega-3s are believed to be beneficial for hair growth and follicle health.
Can Omega-3s help with hair growth?
Very few studies on supplementation focus on omega-3 fatty acids and hair growth. Fish oil is a few of these studies.
A small study was published in the February 2017 Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology Journal. It looked at 10 people with androgenetic hair loss (also known as male-pattern or male-pattern baldness) who received a twice-daily supplement that included a mixture of flaxseed oil and fish oil. Also, it contains antioxidants and melatonin. Eight people, representing 80 percent of the participants, saw a significant increase in their hair after six months. This was a small study with no placebo.
A 2015 study with 120 participants was published in the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology. The study compared a group that took a supplement with fish oil and vitamins C and E to a control group. Six months later, 62% of the supplement group experienced an increase in hair density. This compares with just 28% in the control group. Surprisingly, more than half of the women in the supplement group reported a greater hair growth rate than before and after photos. Dr. Goldberg, who wasn’t involved in either study, said, “I think we need more information and research to understand how it works.”
Supplements can contain omega-3s or fish oil along with other ingredients like antioxidants. These ingredients can work together, so it’s not bad to think that fish oil or omega-3s will cause hair growth.
According to a September 2018 study in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences, topical application is possible. Scientists applied fermented mackerel oils topically on rodents’ whiskers. The substance stimulated hair follicles and activated hair’s “growth” phase.
This is one study, and it was done on rodents. Kerry Yates, a Dallas trichologist who founded Colour Collective, says that “topical application” of fish oil won’t support hair growth or scalp health. The oil has a fishy odor, which can deter some from applying pure fish oil to their scalps.
It is best to follow a healthy diet and use gentle hair-care products for hair growth. If you have hair loss, consult your dermatologist.
What is the Best Fish Oil?
According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, there are many ways to get fish oil. These include fish oil supplements, fish oil supplements like cod liver oil, and shellfish and whole fish. According to the Mayo Clinic, the highest amounts of omega-3s in food are found in oily or fatty fish, including salmon, mackerel and cod, as well as herring, trout and canned tuna.
These fish provide additional vitamins and minerals that are not available in supplements. Registered dietitians recommend that you choose whole fish rather than pills to reap the benefits of fish oil. Debra Jaliman, MD, a New York City dermatologist and author of Skin Rules, recommends choosing a supplement for your hair, skin, and nails. Nordic Naturals uses fish oil made from anchovies or sardines, which she likes.
Fish Oil is Good for Hair and Nails
The role of fish oil in nail and hair health is not well documented. Your body must get the omega-3s it needs. Yates states that although some vitamins claim they can grow hair, they will not cure any hair loss.
Goldberg believes that if you are healthy and have a balanced diet, you are unlikely to be lacking in omega-3s. Goldberg says that if there is no deficiency, it is not clear if supplementing with more omega-3s will help.
Does Cod Liver Oil Cause Hair Loss?
No studies have shown that cod liver oil causes hair fall. There is also no research linking cod liver oil to tress health. According to research published in Dermatology Practical & Conceptual, January 2017, an excess of vitamin A may lead to hair loss. According to the NCCIH, cod liver oil also contains EPA, DHA, and vitamins A and D. These two vitamins can vary in different products, according to the NCCIH. Supplements that contain too much vitamin can cause hair loss and health problems. It would help if you only chose high-quality brands that your healthcare team has cleared.