Fish oil is a commonly consumed dietary supplement rich in omega-3 fatty acids and other essential nutrients. It’s believed to promote overall health.

Proponents of natural medicine use fish oil to treat a range of symptoms, from mental health conditions to chronic diseases.

Since the omega-3s in fish oil are believed to help to regulate the body’s natural functions, advocates of fish oil suggest that it may also:

  • trigger hair growth
  • promote hair strength
  • nourish hair follicles

Keep reading to learn more about the potential benefits of fish oil for hair, and how to use.

According to Harvard University, every year Americans spend over $1 billion on over-the-counter (OTC) fish oil.

Fish oil is an oil or fat that’s extracted from fish tissue. It’s one of the more popular dietary supplements due to its high concentration of omega-3 fatty acids.

Our body requires omega-3 fatty acids to function correctly, but we cannot synthesize them on our own. In order to obtain these nutrients, we have to consume them through diet and supplements.

In addition to omega-3’s, fish oil also contains a number of fats and essential vitamins.

What omega-3s can and can’t help with

According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, omega-3s:

Studies of omega-3s indicated either inconclusive or negative results for other conditions including:

Many people consume fish or fish oil supplements to promote hair growth and prevent hair loss, suggesting that the omega-3 found in fish oil:

  • provides essential proteins and nutrients to hair follicles and skin
  • prevents hair follicle inflammation — a factor that can directly contribute to hair loss
  • promotes circulation in the scalp that may trigger hair growth

Although there’s currently not a sufficient amount of clinical research to fully support these claims, there has been positive research, including:

  • A 2015 study indicated that women taking a fish oil supplement experienced significantly increased hair growth and reduced hair loss.
  • A 2018 study indicated that when mackerel-derived fermented fish oil (FFO) extract was topically applied to mice it significantly stimulated hair growth.
  • A 2015 study indicated that women experienced reduced hair loss and increased hair density when taking a supplement of antioxidants along with omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.

Fish oil advocates anecdotally suggest topical application of fish oil may help add luster and shine to your hair as well as making it healthier.

If you decide to apply fish oil directly to your scalp, be aware that fish oil may have an odor considered unpleasant to you or others.

One of the simpler methods of adding fish oil into your routine is to include more fatty fish in your diet, including:

  • salmon
  • mackerel
  • herring

A common, odorless way to incorporate fish oil in your health regimen is to take dietary supplements.

Use only as directed and be sure to consult your physician before introducing a new vitamin or supplement into your daily regimen.

Your doctor will advise you on a suitable amount of fish oil for your current health situation. They’ll take into account any medications and other supplements you may be taking.

According to the European Food Safety Authority, up to 5,000 mg of an omega-3 fatty acid supplement can be safely consumed daily.

Fish oil supplements are generally considered to be safe. Side effects of omega-3 supplements are usually mild and include:

According to the Mayo Clinic, fish oil supplements may also interact negatively with other drugs, such as:

Talk with your healthcare provider before taking fish oil alongside your daily medications.

Though not proven, fish oil may have hair growth benefits.

Taking a fish oil supplement and treating your hair topically with fish oil may support hair health and help with hair thinning symptoms. However, more research is needed to support these claims.

Be sure to talk with your healthcare provider before adding fish oil or any new supplements to your daily routine.