Fish oil and healthy skin

Fish oil containing the Omega 3 essential fatty acid EPA helps to prevent wrinkles and can delay the aging process of the skin according to recent research published in the Journal of Lipid Research in 2005. Scientists have also found that fish oil containing EPA can limit the damage to the skin produced by overexposure to the sun and help to reduce the negative effect of UV rays. This has particular relevance when we consider the recent and dramatic rise in cases of skin cancers caused predominantly by exposure to the suns harmful rays.

Essential Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids are known to play a critical role in promoting healthy skin. They help to regulate cellular function and maintain elasticity and suppleness in the skin. Consequently, a fatty acid deficiency will show up as skin problems. Most of us do not get enough of the Omega 3 fatty acids in our diet whereas Omega 6 fatty acids are in plentiful supply. Symptoms of Omega 3 fatty acid deficiency include skin problems like eczema, dandruff, dry and flaking skin and poor wound healing.

Three reasons why EPA is so beneficial to the skin?

  • EPA is known to reduce inflammation by helping the body to produce anti-inflammatory prostaglandins. These are hormone-like substances that are responsible for regulating all the cells in our body.
  • EPA helps to inhibit the production of androgens, which are hormones that influence the production of sebum in the hair follicle. Excess sebum production can lead to acne and other skin problems.
  • EPA helps to limit production of Arachidonic acid, which is responsible for pro-inflammatory responses in the body, high levels of which are found in people with inflammatory skin conditions such as psoriasis.

The Omega 3 fatty acids are ALA, EPA and DHA. Alpha linolenic acid (ALA) is found in dark green leafy vegetables and algae. Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) can be found in oily fish such as salmon, herring, anchovies, mackerel and Tuna. Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) can also be found in oily fish. We can convert ALA to EPA and DHA but the conversion is very inefficient and dependent on a number of factors. However, we can convert EPA into DHA if we get enough EPA.

Supplementing with fish oil that contains EPA can alleviate the symptoms of skin disorders such as dry and flaky skin, psoriasis, eczema and acne as well as many other inflammatory skin conditions. However, it is important to choose a fish oil that is high in EPA as DHA has been shown to reduce the effectiveness of EPA.

Fish oil supplements can contain mercury. To be safe take only a pharmaceutical grade fish oil supplement.