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Are acne and omega-3 fatty acids connected?

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

A new German dermatological study reveals that low levels of omega-3 fatty acids in the blood are directly linked to acne vulgaris.

According to Aesthetic Medicine Magazine UK, of the 100 patients with acne that participated in the study conducted by the Department of Dermatology and Allergy at Ludwig-Maximillian University in Munich, 94% had below the recommended levels of omega-3 fatty acids in their blood.

As per the study, omega-3 fatty acids fight acne by reducing inflammation through the stimulation of the production of anti-inflammatory prostaglandins E1 and E3, leukotriene B5 and lower levels of the insulin-like growth factor (IGF) -1, the central hormone that creates acne.

Says Dr Anne Gϋrtler, the lead author from the research team: “Nutrition plays a pivotal role in the prevention, onset and course of many diseases, including dermatologic disorders such as acne vulgaris. As part of a modern treatment approach, clinicians should provide patients with information on how their choice of diet might impact their dermatologic diagnosis and could potentially enhance therapeutic outcomes.”

The dermatologists also investigated the patients’ diets and found that those who said that they regularly consumed pulses, such as chickpeas and lentils, as well as abstained from sunflower oil, had higher levels of omega-3 fatty acid. This key fatty acid is found in foods such as algae, legumes, nuts, seeds and non-farmed fish like wild salmon and sardines.

Assistant Professor at the Department of Dermatology and Venereology, Akdeniz University, Asli Bilgic adds: Acne vulgaris is a condition that weighs heavily on its many sufferers, including negatively impacting their personal and professional lives. It is also one of the most frequent reasons for consultation in general practice as patients look for ways to alleviate their symptoms.”

Bilgic also notes that having acne can have a negative effect on a person’s quality of life due to its highly visible nature.

“This new and exciting research helps us get one step closer to providing effective treatments for the millions of people who face embarrassment and stigma from this skin condition, looking beyond topical skin ointments and classical systemic treatments to a pathway which can have additional health benefits. It also strengthens the idea that a healthy diet is essential for long term remission in acne vulgaris. Although this path needs further exploration, it can give hope to people looking for a way to manage their condition,” he concludes.

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