Ladies and gentlemen, choose your sides as folks are embroiled in the argument as to whether fish oil helps to get rid of angular cheilitis or actually contributes to it.

Pro-fish oil enthusiasts site the myriad benefits of fish oil, pointing out its immune-enhancing benefits. Indeed, it’s bountiful omega 3′s support white blood cells, indispensable for warding off or fighting illness.

Fish oil advocates also point out that the oil is a potent, natural anti-inflammatory agent, perfect to reduce the lips’ inflamed condition as a result of perleche. One famous study demonstrated that pure fish oil positively impacted 1000 genes that regulate inflammation. Any anti-inflammatory source is a welcome addition when battling cheilitis.

Of course, there are countless other supposed benefits of fish oil, including its propensity to improve insulin sensitivity, stimulate protein synthesis as a result of its EPA and DHA components, slow protein breakdown, enhance cell health, and the list goes on. The pro-fish oil side further assert that just about any health-promoting supplement that improves the body’s natural defenses has to be considered an asset when one is engaged against an angular cheilitis onslaught.

“Well, not so fast,” according to the anti-fish oil crowd, concerned that fish oil, and even its cousin, cod liver oil, may not live up to the hype – at least when it comes to any alleged angular cheilitis benefit.

As evidence, this side relies on sites like and Wikipedia that implicate an excess of Vitamin A as another possible causal agent of cheilitis. Fish oil and cod liver oil are densely packed sources of Vitamin A, and perhaps here, too much is a good thing. According to these sources, ‘angular cheilitis is associated with primary hypervitaminosis A,’

Moreover, I found several online anecdotes where folks are almost certain that a bout of cheilitis sprung forth after fish oil intake. Of course, the particulars are often missing (e.g., how much of the supplement was taken, the company brand, how many times a day, the form utilized, etc.)

There’s no way to know for certain whether there is a cause and effect relationship as there are too many variables. In addition, just because cheilitis developed at a certain time does not necessarily mean that any given food or supplement was responsible. To confuse matters even more, what happens if the individual simply developed an allergic reaction to the fish oil, or was adversely affected by the enteric coating, if applicable.

Scientific research needs to be performed if we’re ever going to answer the question whether fish oil exerts a beneficial or baneful influence on our lips. Perhaps there is no universal answer, except to say that one woman’s holy grail is another woman’s Achilles heel. Individual response can always vary.

So where does this leave the health-conscious person who is concerned about his/her angular cheilitis? Should an angular cheilitis-prone individual take fish oil?

I’m no Dr. Oz, but I would proceed with caution, and perhaps take it in moderate amounts, following my grandmother’s mantra of ingesting ‘everything in moderation.’ My daily recommended dose is 500 mg. between EPA and DHA, and another 500 mg. of omega 3. (Obviously, please discuss any supplementation with your nutritionist or doctor.)

Furthermore, ensure that the source is pure and natural, free of any toxins, such as mercury. My favorite brand is Nordic Naturals as the company seems to follow good manufacturing processing practices, and offers a variety of suitable supplements. You can find them easily on Amazon. Determine, the effects, if any, that you notice after supplement intake.

In conclusion, I’m unable to provide a definitive answer as to whether to take or avoid fish oil, uncertain of its potential impact on angular cheilitis. (It may very well have little, if any, effect.) I’ve outlined the pro and con arguments, and shared my suggested course of action. Here’s hoping that you will soon gravitate to the pro-fish oil camp.

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