You’ve heard about Omega-3s and know that they’re good for your health, but what about your skin?
Turns out these essential fats are not a four letter word if you want supple skin with that healthy glow.
Read below to see why adding flax seed oil and fish oil are two beauty vitamin supplements that should be part of your daily beauty regimen.
Omega-3s are Crucial to Skin Health
What’s the connection? Like the cells that line the intestine, skin cells are short-lived with a rapid turnover rate. That means the nutrients needed to build new skin cells must readily be on hand. An essential Omega-3 fat called alpha-linolenic acid (along with another essential Omega-6 fat called linoleic acid) is a key component in the fatty membranes of skin cells. Without this special type of fat on hand, the body must build new cells with “inferior” fats, resulting in less than optimal skin health and suppleness.
Omega-3s Prevent Dry, Flaking Skin
Getting enough Omega-3s becomes even more important as we age and our skin starts to naturally dry out. Replenishing the body with quality Omega-3 fats ensures healthy cell membranes that keep the skin hydrated and help prevent it from flaking and drying out. In fact, a 2007 study found an association between increased Omega-3 intake and decreased senile dryness and skin atrophy in middle-aged American women.
Omega-3s Protect Against Skin Aging
Another way Omega-3s benefit your skin is by providing UV protection. Damage from the sun’s ultraviolet rays is a primary cause of skin aging. The two kinds of Omega-3s found in fish oil, EPA and DHA, protect your skin from damage by increasing its resistance to UV light.
Think of Omega-3s as internal sunscreen. Compared to topical sunscreens that only act locally, the photo protective function of Omega-3s benefits your entire skin. Those with fairer skin in particular may benefit from this kind of protection.
Omega-3 fatty acids also act as antioxidants to protect the skin from harmful free-radicals that form especially when unprotected skin is exposed to UV light.
The Omega-3 fat called EPA goes one step further by helping block the release of the UV-induced enzymes that break down collagen, which promotes the development of fine lines and wrinkles.
Omega-3s Help Inflammatory Skin Conditions
Any condition that ends in “itis” indicates that the problem is associated with inflammation. Skin problems like dermatitis is inflammation of the skin. But, other skin issues like psoriasis and eczema also have an inflammatory component.
Taking an Omega-3 supplement can improve each of these inflammatory conditions. Why? Because Omega-3 fats help reduce silent inflammation in your body.
Unlike acute inflammation you see from surgery or injury, silent (chronic) inflammation is much more dangerous because it isn’t readily apparent. If left untreated, it can lead to serious health conditions like heart disease, arthritis, and possibly even some types of cancer.
Omega-3s reduce silent inflammation by moderating the balance of pro- and anti-inflammatory chemical messengers in the body called prostaglandins.
Omega-3s and Skin Acne
If you think taking an Omega-3 supplement is counter intuitive for acne, think again! Studies have shown that acne patients given Omega-3 supplements containing EPA, reduced their inflammatory acne lesions.
If you’ve visited a dermatologist lately for acne, chances are that she probably didn’t speak with you out about your diet. That’s because most dermatologists discount the role that nutrition plays in acne development.
But, a number of studies conducted by Lorain Cordain, PhD strongly correlate the Western diet with acne. Specifically, refined carbohydrates (e.g., white bread, cookies, bagels) and saturated fats lead to acne. Other studies have shown an association between dairy intake and acne.
Omega-3s and Oily Skin
Do you have oily skin? If so, taking an Omega-3 supplement will not necessarily make your skin oiler. You can blame simple carbs and dairy—staples of the Western diet—for the hormonal imbalance that causes excessive skin oil.
Whether you’re goal is to fight aging, reduce inflammation, clear up acne, or simply improve your skin’s health and suppleness, high quality Omega-3 supplements like VitaMedica’s Organic Flax Seed Oil and VitaMedica’s Super EPA/DHA Fish Oil are great additions to your beauty regimen.
David H. Rahm, M.D. is the founder and medical director of The Wellness Center, a medical clinic located in Long Beach, CA. Dr. Rahm is also president and medical director of VitaMedica. Dr. Rahm is one of a select group of conventional medical doctors who have education and expertise in functional medicine and nutritional science. Over the past 20 years, Dr. Rahm has published articles in the plastic surgery literature and educated physicians about the importance of good peri-operative nutrition.