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Chris Masterjohn's article on fatty acids, thoughts on omega 3

Blog Forums Nutrition Chris Masterjohn's article on fatty acids, thoughts on omega 3

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    It’s been ages since I got involved with the scientific minutiae of nutrition, but because I’m dealing with some acne flare up, I thought I might be deficient in omega-3. So I googled a little and found this article. It’s insanely long, and I was hoping for some recap near the end along the lines of ‘eat this, don’t eat that’, but it was missing! ;)

    Anyone read it, and don’t mind sharing some of the important details of it? I’m having difficulty understanding whether omega 3, esp fish oils are bad or not bad. I also got the feeling he implies that omega-6 are needed in pretty big quantities. But I could be entirely wrong.

    I know the general consensus on this blog is that PUFAs are pretty evil. I think I get most of my fat from dairy, in the form of butter and yogurt. I feel like I need to increase my omega 3 intake by eating more seafood, but then I read this and how the healthy Cretians only ate minimal seafood. And the Inuits had to eat a ton of glandular food to counteract the ill effects of blubber.

    This is the reason I’ve stayed off nutritional science for the past couple of years–I always end up more confused.


    @rosajo I can’t help you out on the article,but acne flare up can have lots of reasons.

    ” I feel like I need to increase my omega 3 intake by eating more seafood”

    Do you mean you feel obliged to by reading the article,or that you genuinely crave it? Because if it’s because of the first reason,I’m not sure it’s such a good idea…..I guess if you don’t really crave it,your body probably won’t need it?
    Besides fatty fish is not the only source for Omega 3’s…yes,it’s the highest concentration but grassfed meat,grassfed butter&dairy,eggs and some fruit&vegetables got some Omega 3 too,so that’s why I’m guessing if you don’t crave fatty fish you don’t really am in need of it? Just theorizing though…..but there are so many people in the world who don’t eat fatty fish and are healthy.


    I assume you’re talking about this article:

    My summary of it is: there does appear to be a need for small amounts of “essential fatty acids” in humans, but you’ll easily get enough of them eating a well-balanced diet, so no need to overtly supplement or force yourself to eat foods high in them.

    This doesn’t seem to be that far off from the Peat view. Funny that Mary Enig had an article basically arguing over the syntax vs. semantics of “essential” with Ray Peat. I can’t seem to find that article on the website now; I wonder if they deleted it?

    As for acne, I’m a long-time sufferer. The best nutrients I can recommend based on personal experience are zinc (oysters ~3x per week) and B vitamins (brewer’s yeast). Also, making sure you blood sugar stays stable and doesn’t drop too low. Getting enough vitamin A (liver) didn’t seem to have much effect with me, but I still eat pate regularly as desired.


    there’s actually some interesting stuff out there about acne possibly being linked to having too little omega-6s instead–the lipid profile of the sebum of people with acne is deficient in linoleic acid

    can’t remember all the details but it affects keratinization as well as a lot of other stuff

    the deficiency doesn’t seem to be systemic, just in production–eating enough n-6 but somehow not able to get it to the surface of the skin (though some people take borage oil orally and have a lot of success)

    have heard good things about using high-linoleic oils (safflower etc) on acne-prone skin

    • This reply was modified 10 years, 6 months ago by heatherduke.

    Oh, I forgot to link the article! Thanks Derek!!

    No, I do not crave fatty fish much. I sometimes get Alaskan salmon, but only a few bites actually taste good. And if I have leftovers the next day, I don’t feel so good. I think fish has never been much my thing. Although I do like shellfish, but I’m a stickler with freshness and since I’m landlocked, I am weary of the quality here.

    What I really crave and always has is dairy. So I probably get my fair share of omega-3s? I’m not up to trying to source some 100% farm-fresh grass-fed stuff at the moment, but the Kalona I get tastes good and is at least partially pastured.

    Thanks for the recommendations, derek and heatherduke. Derek, do you get fresh oyster? And you actually mean 3 times a week? Isn’t that expensive?

    Heatherduke, that is so interesting about omega-6 not getting to the skin. I wonder why that is.


    I think if you don’t crave the fish,your body doesn’t need it that much…and probably gets some from other foods.
    Back when I was VLC Paleo I was craving&eating fatty fish daily,before I didnt even like fish…..and now eating with a more Peat-inspired framework I have no craving for fatty fish at all anymore,I never even think about it.
    So,I’m guessing(yet have a hard time trusting) the body knows which foods it wants for different nutrients and adapts quickly to a certain dietary framework to get everything it needs?

    Steven e

    I can eat a lot of fish if it’s raw. Salmon in particular Cooked fish I find difficult to digest, especially well cooked fish. I’m sure the fats are in better shape in raw fish too. You can’t eat most fish raw though because of parasite issues.


    @rosajo occasional fresh oysters, but mostly canned. Not ideal, I know, but as you say, fresh oysters are expensive and impractical for those who don’t live by a coast.


    I suck at checking back with updates on my posst!

    Dutchie, I find it interesting you craved fatty fish when paleo–that seems to relate well with what Masterjohn wrote about Inuit diets being high in marine oils (I can’t remember the details though).

    I ate and liked herring a lot growing up. And fish roe/caviar. But after moving to Minnesota at age 20, I pretty much stopped eating seafood for practical reasons.

    No, I couldn’t eat raw fish. I’m too chicken with that kind of stuff. Though it makes sense it’s more easily digested. I sometimes get cod, which I also grew up eating at least once a week, and if I accidentally overcook it, I feel so sick afterward! My mom would just simmer the filets in water with bay leaf and peppercorns and then we’d eat it with boiled potatoes, vinegar, olive oil and crushed raw garlic.

    Sometimes the cod I get here is great, other times it’s hard (when fresh) and tastes like crap. Not sure why that is, but now I know to press the meat a little to check before buying.

    I think I’ve lost my ability to sense cravings. I don’t even have them much anymore. I suppose it’s the result of too many restrictions.

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