I am sure you have heard that fish and fish oil is great for your health. But why is it good for your skin?
The answer is the abundance of Omega-3 that is found in fish. Omega-3 and Omega-6 belong to the essential fatty acid family (EFA). These are referred to as essential as they cannot be produced by the body and so subsequently must be consumed in the diet.
Although our bodies need Omega-6 ,a healthy body needs a healthy balance of Omega-3 to Omega-6. Western diets can be loaded with omega 6 and too much produces problems with the ratio of omega 3:6 making our bodies more prone to inflammation. Chances are if you are eating a lot of takeaways, processed foods (in boxes or packets or cans) or bakery products you are going to have high levels of omega 6. This is because these products contain warm weather oils such as cotton seed oil, palm oil and vegetable oil.
The anti-inflammatory effect of Omega-3 is achieved via the production of hormone-like compounds that are called prostaglandins. To ensure we have adequate levels of prostaglandins a regular supply of EFA’s is needed.
How to increase Omega-3
There are 2 primary ways to increase your omega 3.
Firstly you could take flaxseed (linseed) oil. Although a good option for vegans, unfortunately it is not the best way to take omega 3. Why? Because flaxseed contains alpha linolenic acid (ALA) which must be converted to EPA and DHA. The bad news is, it is believed that only around 15% of the ALA is converted to EPA and possibly nil is converted to DHA. This conversion can be inhibited by vitamin and mineral deficiencies or a high intake of foods rich in Omega-6.
The better option is to either eat more fish or take fish oil capsules/oils as fish oil has readily available EPA and DHA. But there are a few things you need to know about fish oil.
Firstly you need to be eating cold water fish because they contain high levels of omega 3 (as the oil is what the fish wraps itself in to keep warm). We are talking about fish such as cold water mackeral, salmon, sardines, tuna, herrings and cod.
If you believe fish oils supplements are a better option then you are probably right – however it does depend on the brand that you are buying. Recent research has found that some brands have virtually no fish oil at all, others contain fish oil sourced from contaminated waters, whilst other fish oils are not processed correctly making them rancid and dangerous to the consumer.
A reliable brand will be process and package the fish oil using nitric oxide to prevent rancidity (free radical damage).I recommend that you ask your health practitioner about which is a reliable brand and what dose is required for your specific treatment or preventative medicine program.
Skin Benefits of Omega-3
So now that you know what to take, what are the likely benefits to the skin?? EPA and DHA can;
- improve levels of stress and depression. Stress is a major contributor to all skin disorders and most people with these mental health disorders have been found to be deficient;
- decrease inflammation within the body and on the skin;
- promote healthy immune function;
- assist with healthy digestive function which is related to immune health;
- boost moisturization of the skin and help prevent dryness;
- assist in the treatment of eczema and hair loss;
- relax blood vessels and promote a healthy circulation.
If you have a skin problem we would love to help you improve the quality, look and feel of your skin. To find out more visit our Skin Treatments page.