How Omega-3 fatty acids give you glowing skin at any age
Healthy glowing skin doesn’t come from products or treatments, it comes from nutrient dense, whole foods. Omega-3 fatty acids play an integral part in whole body health and are a foundation for healthy, resilient and glowing skin.
There is also substantial evidence showing that the omega-3s support overall health and wellness, including brain function, vision, inflammation, immunity, heart and lung health, metabolic health and during pregnancy.
There are three main types of omega-3 fatty acids: eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), and alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). A robust body of research suggests that EPA supports healthy inflammatory and immune function, while DHA supports healthy brain development and function.
EPA and DHA come mainly from fish, some algae, walnuts, and chia, hemp and flax seeds. ALA is the most common omega-3 fatty acid in most Western diets and is found in vegetable oils and nuts.
Why are omega-3 fatty acids key for health?
Omega-3s are important components of the membranes that surround each cell in your body and they affect the function of cell receptors in all cell membranes. DHA levels are especially high in the retina, brain, and sperm cells. Omega-3s also provide calories to give your body energy and have many functions in your lungs, immune system, and endocrine system.
They help to regulate blood clotting, contraction and relaxation of artery walls, and inflammation. Due to these effects, they can help prevent heart disease and stroke, may help to control some autoimmune conditions and may play protective roles in cancer.
They also have an important role to play in chronic inflammation. Omega-3s have been shown to decrease some of the substances our body releases during an inflammatory response that can lead to a chronic health condition. We know prolonged stress leads to inflammation, so if you experience chronic stress, it might be a good idea to look at omega-3s.
Why are omega-3s important for skin health?
The right omega fatty acids are a foundational nutrient for healthy skin. Foods rich in omega-3s and specifically EPA and DHA have anti-inflammatory properties that help to reduce inflammation, redness, itchiness, and irritation. They can be helpful in conditions such as eczema, acne, and psoriasis.
First, fatty acids are a part of the skin’s lipid layer and help build a healthy skin barrier. When the skin’s barrier is compromised, skin can become rough, dry, irritated, and sensitized. A compromised skin barrier contributes to premature aging and fine lines, because the skin can't hold onto enough water. The skin needs healthy lipids to stay smooth, hydrated, and plump.
Second, inflammation in the body is the most widely accepted theory of overall aging, including aging of the skin. Omega-3s could play a role in mitigating the signs of aging because they inhibit the inflammatory compounds that contribute to the aging process.
Omega-3 fatty acids help:
Omega-3 Fatty Acids and Hyperpigmentation
Many people struggle with hyperpigmentation, which is a common condition that makes some areas of the skin darker than others. Hyperpigmentation can be caused and exacerbated by hormonal changes like pregnancy, perimenopause, and menopause, as well as UV exposure, skin trauma, age, and some medication,
Omega-3s and especially EPA and DHA can help inhibit melanin production which may help reduce pigmentation due to UV exposure. They can also help in cases of hyperpigmentation due to skin trauma, because they help to speed up wound healing and reduce inflammation.
Sustainable sources of Omega-3s
While we can make most other fats that our bodies need from the foods we eat, omega-3s need to be acquired from our diet. And unless we are very intentional about what we eat, chances are, we are probably not getting enough. Deficiency in omega-3 fatty acids can show up as dry hair and skin, brain fog, difficulty in concentration, joint stiffness and other nonspecific symptoms. Here are some of the best sources of omega-3s.
Small, fatty fish
Algae oil is from a lab-cultivated marine algae that is rich in EPA and DHA. This is a good alternative for people who don’t or can’t eat fish. If you eat foods fortified with omega-3s, like eggs, farmed salmon, or chicken, it’s likely that they’re fortified with algae. Omega-3s that are added to infant formula are also derived from algae oil. Studies have shown algae oil to be nutritionally comparable to fish oil.
Nuts and seeds
Walnuts contain high levels of omega-3s. One 30g serving will provide 2.2g of omega-3 (which will then be converted ALA to EPA and DHA because it’s a plant-based source). Walnut oil is also a good plant source of omega-3.
Flax seed oil is a great source of omega-3, but be sure to consume the oil and not the seeds (the seeds are a great source of fiber) to get the omega-3s. Chia seeds contain high amounts of ALA and about 60 per cent of the oil content in chia seeds is in the form of omega-3 fatty acids.
If you are going the supplement route, usually a 1 gram dose is the standard and it's recommended to find a combination of EPA and DHA to cover your bases. You also want to find a brand that has EPA and DHA at the 500 mg level.