Fish oil supplementation can reduce oxidative stress and inflammatory skin reactions in people who are briefly exposed to particulate matter air pollution. This is evident from study results published in the British Journal of Dermatology.

Exposure to particulate matter with an aerodynamic diameter ≤ 2.5 μm (PM2.5) can be a risk factor for certain inflammatory skin diseases.

In this study, 65 healthy college students (58.5% women) in Shanghai, China were exposed to average PM2.5 concentrations of 34.68 ± 15.83 μg / m3 per 24-hour period, according to the Randomly a dietary supplement with sea fish oil (60%) Omega-3 fatty acids: eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid; n = 24; Mean age 23.02 ± 2.26 years) or placebo (sunflower oil; n = 31; mean age 22.87 ± 1.28 years) over a period of 4 months. The marine fish oil and placebo groups had similar demographics.

Participants were instructed to take capsules twice a day. Biomarkers for skin inflammation were collected at the start of the study and after 8, 12 and 14 weeks of dietary supplementation with tape stripping. Biomarkers of interest included interleukin (IL) -1α, IL-1 receptor antagonist, carbonyl protein, total antioxidant capacity, and glutathione.

In order to take into account possible delayed effects of PM2.5 exposure, the biomarker concentrations for 4 different PM2.5 exposure periods were determined before skin sampling: 0 to 6 hours, 0 to 12 hours, 0 to 24 hours and 0 to 48 hours. Real-time concentrations of PM2.5 in the environment were measured during the entire duration of the experiment using an environmental dust monitor. Linear mix-effect models were used to assess the relationship between PM2.5 exposure and biomarker levels in each of the two groups. The analyzes were adjusted with regard to the concentration of gaseous pollutants and the nutrient uptake through food.

The average 24-hour PM2.5 concentration before skin removal was 34.68 ± 15.83 μg / m3. For every 10 μg / m3 increase in PM2.5 concentration, IL-1α levels increased by 15.0% in the placebo group and by 26.54% (P = 0.03) in the fish oil group, and carbonyl protein levels increased by 16.30% in the placebo group and decreased by 5.71% (P <0.01) in the fish oil group. These results suggest that patients taking fish oil may have experienced decreased inflammation in response to increased PM2.5 levels. However, the groups did not differ significantly from other biomarkers.

Limitations of the study include a small and homogeneous cohort, the use of a fixed-location monitor versus personal device to measure PM2.5 exposure, and the fact that exposure levels may differ between participants.

“Our results [suggest] This fish oil supplement could be a simple and effective way to protect skin health from exposure to PM2.5 in the environment in areas with high levels of air pollution, ”the study authors say.


Lin Z, Niu Y, Jiang Y et al. Protective effect of fish oil supplementation on biomarkers of inflammatory and oxidative skin stress caused by fine dust air pollution: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled pilot study [published online April 25, 2020]. Br J Dermacol. doi: 10.1111 / bjd.19156


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