What is Squalene?

Squalene is isoprenoil composed of 30 carbons. It is the main compound of the liver oil of shark. As unsaturated carbohydrate composed of carbon and hydrogen, it is liquid oil with extremely low melting point. Small amount of squalene (0.1~0.7%) is also included in olive oil, malt oil, rice kernel oil, and yeast as an important intermediate for the cholesterol biosynthesis. It is also found in olive oil, corn oil, cod-liver oil, and others by small amount as well. In our bodies, approximately 1g of squalene is synthesized daily to be used in synthesis of cholesterol, reproductive hormones, vitamin D, and bile acid and approximately 250mg of squalene is excreted as sebum via sebaceous glands in skin. Squalene was first discovered in the shark liver by Dr. Tsujimoto Mitsumaru, a lipid chemist in Japan in 1906. Afterwards, Dr. Paul Kara in the University of Zurich, Swiss, discovered the molecular structure of squalene in 1935. Since long time ago, northern Scandinavians have used the shark liver oil as a folk remedy to treat numerous diseases such as feeble constitution, wound healing, and gastric-intestinal diseases.

Sharks are divided into two categories by the depth of water they inhabit, epipelagic and abyssal sharks. There are approximately 250 kinds of sharks around the world and approximately 50 kinds are abyssal sharks living 500∼1,000m deep under the sea. Out of these, the child shark is considered the best as the source of squalene to have 71∼85% of the liver oil as squalene.


1. Detoxification

Squalene well penetrates into the cells or tissues for high lipid solubility and extremely low surface tension. Therefore, it has detoxifying action by melting lipid-soluble pesticides or carcinogenic substances, environmental pollutants, heavy metals, and others concentrated within cells or tissues and extracting them out.

2. Skin regeneration

Squalene provides oxygen to the cells by excreting wastes and activating metabolism. Therefore, it helps generation of new cells to make elastic and shiny skin. Also, it penetrates into the hypodermis to help generation of cellular membranes to maintain elastic and soft skin.

3. Promotion of metabolism

The benefits of squalene include activating cells by supplying oxygen to where it is needed, promoting metabolism to help general functions of the organism, revitalizing tissues, clearing body fluids, sterilizing germs, revitalizing functions of hypodermal tissues, preventing adult diseases, reinforcing liver function and eyesight, forming healthy teeth, and helping fast fatigue recovery.

4. Treatment and prevention of cancer

Squalene promotes reticuloendothelial functions which remove pathogens such as bacteria, cancer cells, and others. Especially, it activates the function of T cells and phagocytosis to enhance anti-cancer activity. Also, it inhibits apoptosis implicating its possible therapeutic role to treat tumors.

It has been proved that it effectively suppresses lung cancer and chemically prevents colon cancer. In a recent animal study, it has been reported that the cutaneous angiogenesis due to the tumor cell and its growth was significantly decreased by administration of squalene.

5. Decrease in cholesterol level

Squalene works as a key precursor in the biosynthesis of cholesterol. It lowers the level of cholesterol in vivo to enhance the effectiveness of anti-hypercholesterolemia agents. 

Cautions and side effects

Infants, children, pregnant and lactating women must avoid squalene supplements.

Excessive administration of squalene may cause mild gastro-intestinal problems such as diarrhea. Therefore, it is prohibited to uptake more than recommended. Also, it has been observed that temporary hypercholesterolemia may arise at the first month of administration of squalene. However, it was confirmed that the cholesterol level is normalized after stopping the administration in human trail of 3 months. So people with high blood cholesterol level should give cautions in administration.