Fish oil contains omega-3 fatty acids. Some studies suggest that omega-3 fatty acids can improve hair health, especially in people with hair loss. However, the evidence for this is currently limited.
A person can increase their intake of fish oil by changing their diet or taking nutritional supplements. Omega-3 supplements are also available.
It should be noted that the content and quality of dietary supplements can vary widely and their labeling is not always correct. Anyone interested in a supplement should look for reputable brands and consider consulting a healthcare provider before purchasing.
This article examines whether fish oil is good for hair and whether it can help with hair loss. It also researches recommended dosages and examines whether fish oil can cause side effects.
Fish oil comes from several types of oily fish such as herring, tuna, and mackerel. It is also available as a supplement, either as a liquid or in capsules.
Fish oil is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, essential fatty acids that the body cannot make on its own. Two of the most well-known types of omega-3 are docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA).
Companies can make fish oil from any type of oily fish, so different products contain different types and amounts of omega-3 fatty acids. Some may have little or no DHA or EPA.
Most of the research on fish oil has looked at its possible effects on hair loss. Although these studies were small, their results suggest that fish oil can promote hair growth.
The oil can have this effect by moving the hair into its growth phase or by staying there longer.
Hair grows in four stages: anagen, catogen, telogen and exogen, and growth occurs at the anagen stage. A 2018 animal study found that fermented mackerel oil increased the time hair spends in the anagen phase. It’s worth noting that this finding may not apply to humans.
However, a 2015 study of 120 female participants found that a supplement containing omega-3s and omega-6s decreased the amount of hair in the residual or telogen stage and increased the amount in the growth stage.
Compared to a control group, participants who took the supplement for 6 months reported less hair loss and more growth.
While this finding looks promising, determining whether fish oil can reliably support hair growth in anyone requires further investigation.
Fish oil can help with hair loss for the same reasons as it can help with hair loss. Spending more time in its growth phase can lead to a person having more hair.
Additionally, the 2015 study found that the supplement containing omega-3 fatty acids and omega-6 fatty acids resulted in larger hair diameter and density after 6 months, according to participants’ reports.
There is no officially recommended daily dosage of EPA or DHA as these are not essential nutrients. According to Harvard Health, a standard amount of EPA and DHA per day for an adult is between 250 and 500 milligrams (mg).
However, assessing actual intake can be difficult as amounts in supplements vary – 1,000 mg of one brand of fish oil may contain less or more EPA and DHA than the same amount of oil from another brand.
People can get omega-3s from their diet. Oily fish is a good source of EPA and DHA. Few plant-based foods contain these types of omega-3s, but algae oil is a suitable alternative for people on a vegetarian or vegan diet.
A person who chooses a fish oil supplement can benefit from a high fat meal. Some evidence suggests that this may increase absorption.
Many people tolerate fish oil and all side effects are mild. The most common are:
High doses of fish oil can also prevent blood from clotting properly and put people with certain bleeding disorders at risk. These doses can also increase the effects of anticoagulant drugs such as warfarin (Coumadin).
Anyone who has an ongoing health problem should speak to a doctor before trying a fish oil supplement.
Hair loss and thinning can be distressing and affect self-esteem. If a person experiences unexplained hair loss, it may be helpful to speak to a doctor.
Sometimes hair loss results from hormonal changes caused by menopause or an underlying health condition such as polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).
If a person has hair loss and any of the following symptoms, they should see a doctor:
- irregular or no periods
- unexplained weight gain
- oily skin or hair
A small amount of evidence suggests that fish oil, which contains significant amounts of EPA and DHA, can aid hair growth.
However, more research is needed to determine whether fish oil can counteract hair loss in humans.
Anyone thinking of trying fish oil for hair health should look for reliable brands and contact a doctor if they have ongoing health issues.