5 Skin Benefits of Omega-3 Fatty Acids
What Fish Oil Can Do for Your Skin: 4 Benefits of Fish Oil
Achieving flawless skin has been a long-time obsession of women all over the world. Different skin care remedies have been trending ever since—from blood facials to snail facials! But another way to get perfect skin is by feeding your skin from within.
Fish oil is known to be a great source of Omega-3, a type of fatty acid that promotes overall health and wellbeing. This supplement is known for improving heart health, as well as boosting memory and cognitive function. Whether it’s taken in the form of a supplement or a fatty fish, incorporating fish oil into your diet and/or beauty routine can help you achieve better and healthier skin!
Why You Should Use Fish Oil For Skin Health
If you want beautiful, healthy skin, you need Omega-3s in your diet.*
Eating lots of seafood, pastured eggs and grassfed meat can help you get closer to the amount needed. And diet is certainly the best place to start.
But even with an excellent diet, it’s hard to get enough.
That’s why so many people concerned about their skin health use fish oil supplements. Supplement with Omega-3-rich fish oil for skin health and you’ll love what you’ll see in the mirror.*
How do we know this works?
In part because we see it in practice . . . Aestheticians make up one of our largest groups of professional customers. They have their clients use our fish oil supplements to help them achieve smooth, flawless skin that glows with health from the inside out.
Because it works so well, they keep coming back for more. Emerging research confirms what their happy clients are seeing . . .
Fish Oil’s Omega-3s Work Wonders Beneath Your Skin’s Surface
Throughout your body, Omega-3s, particularly EPA, competes with the Omega-6 fatty acid arachidonic acid (AA) for receptor sites. By doing so it helps keep the body’s inflammatory response healthy and balanced. *
No less than 10 clinical studies have shown that thanks to its role in a healthy inflammation response, Omega-3 supplementation can help people worried about their skin maintain clear, beautiful skin.1*
Omega-3s moderating influence in the body may also explain how taking Omega-3 fish oil for skin health may delay sunburn after UV exposure.*
In 3 clinical trials, when people upped their Omega-3 intake through supplementation (anywhere between 2.8 g to 5 g) it seemed to help strengthen their skin’s healthy resistance to sunburn.2*
Sounds good, huh?
But let’s dig a little deeper . . . Let’s look at how Omega-3s may be impacting the structure of your skin . . .
In 2005 a group of Korean researchers conducted two experiments on skin and Omega-3s – one testing skin cells in petri-dishes and the second using human volunteers.
And they found that when they applied the Omega-3 EPA directly onto skin after the skin was exposed to UV rays, the skin continued to function in a healthy, beautiful way.
Enzymes that ordinarily would appear and start destroying the collagen of the skin after UV exposure did not emerge.
Nope, the skin kept humming along – healthy and beautiful – with no interference from these collagen-eating enzymes.*
Better yet, a whole other set of enzymes started to become more active . . . Enzymes linked to increasing production of collagen, fibrin and elastin in the skin started to show up.3*
Now it’s important to note this experiment involved slathering the skin with Omega-3 oil. It’s a great study for confirming why a sardine-oil skin cream might work – if you can stand the smell! But when it comes to supplementation, it doesn’t necessarily prove anything. This research just suggests possibilities.
That being said, we know supplementation can deliver Omega-3s to the skin.
In one of the sunburn studies mentioned above, when people supplemented with 4 g of EPA over 3 months, they saw an 8-fold increase in EPA in the skin. So with supplementation, your skin is getting more Omega-3s – perhaps enough to make a difference.
Clearly we have more research to do to understand how fish oil helps the skin. However, you can’t argue with the confidence-boosting, beautiful results many of our customers see with their skin when they start using our fish oil regularly.*
Ready to see what Omega-3-rich fish oil can do for your skin? Our Ultra-Concentrated Omega-3 Fish Oil gives you lots of EPA along with a good supply of DHA. And if you feel the need for some extra EPA-power when it comes to keeping your skin’s inflammation response normal*, try our ultra-pure EPA 500.
5 Skin Benefits of Omega-3 Fatty Acids
According to the research, achieving healthy, youthful-looking skin requires making internal improvements – by consuming nutrient-dense foods such as collard greens (yum!), beets, lentils, almonds, and wild-caught salmon.1,2 To be more specific, low-sugar diets that contain probiotics and nutrients or compounds like zinc, selenium, coenzyme Q10, collagen, prebiotics, and omega-3 fatty acids have been linked to younger and healthier looking skin.1,3 In this article, we focus on the five most researched skin benefits of omega-3 fatty acids specifically.
1) Omega-3 Effects on the Gut-Skin Axis
Who would have imagined that the living organisms located in our gut could change the appearance of our skin – a phenomenon known as the gut-skin axis.3 Recent investigations reveal that poor dietary choices may lead to unfavorable changes in our gut bacteria, which may in turn, disrupt the quality of our skin.4 For example, high-sugar, high-fat and low-fiber foods have been shown to alter gut microbiota in ways that result in higher insulin levels – a factor that’s been linked to the development of acne.5,6 Fortunately, changing dietary patterns can help enhance the quality of gut bacteria. In fact, some studies show that increased consumption of fish or supplementation with omega-3s may help promote the growth of “good bacteria” that are thought to optimize health.7,8
Speaking of optimal health, a recent study (2018) showed that supplementation with omega-3s increased certain types of the “good bacteria” that produce gut-protective molecules known as short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs).8 The human gut loves SCFAs, as these fatty acids not only provide energy to our stomach cells, they also help strengthen the gut lining – a protective barrier that acts like a gatekeeper. When our gatekeeper is weak, unwanted critters (bacteria) or their byproducts (toxins) may make their way through the barrier, enter the bloodstream, and end up in your skin.9
While it isn’t a pleasant thought knowing that unwanted bacteria and toxins from your gut may be headed up to the surface to wreak havoc on your epidermis, you’ll be pleased to know that human studies have shown that both prebiotics and probiotics can help optimize skin health by out-populating the “bad critters” in your gut.10,11
Considering that omega-3 fatty acids may help increase the “good guys”, an adequate intake of these vital fatty acids may help optimize gut health – a strong factor affecting skin vitality.
2) Pimple-Fighting Properties of Omega-3s
Research suggests that diets low in omega-3 fatty acids may be linked to the prevalence of acne—a skin condition characterized by pimples that occurs when hair follicles become plugged with oil and dead skin cells.12,13 Conversely, a study analyzing the diet of over 1000 teenagers found that those who consumed higher amounts of fish and seafood tended to have fewer breakouts14
Some trials report that supplementation with either omega-3 fatty acids or gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) can have pimple-fighting properties.15,16 In a recent 10-week trial, subjects with breakouts were assigned to supplement with either 2,000 mg of omega-3s, 2000 mg of borage oil, or no supplements at all (control group).16 At the end of the trial, the participants that supplemented with omega-3 oil or borage oil (which contains a “healthy” omega-6) had fewer breakout issues, whereas the control group showed no such improvement. How might the intake of omega-3s and GLA result in a more favorable skin complexion? Good question.
Some researchers believe that pimple formation is an insulin-driven skin problem and that because omega-3s have been shown to have insulin-sensitizing effects, this may explain why those with a higher intake of fish and seafood tend to have fewer problems with breakouts.17
3) Sun-Buffering Effects of Omega-3s
Skin damage that results from sun overexposure is one of the most common causes of accelerated skin aging.18 When sunlight contacts the skin, it causes the production of free radicals, which can attack the skin’s cellular membranes. Because the omega-3 fatty acids play an important role in cellular membrane health, it is thought that having an optimal omega-3 status may enhance the skin’s resilience to ultraviolet light.19,20 Several human studies have reported that oral supplementation with omega-3 fatty acids can help buffer against the sun’s harmful rays.21,22
The use of omega-3s to naturally support skin health is gaining interest as fish and cod liver oil extracts are now found in various cosmetic products.23 In a human trial, participants had sardine oil applied to the skin of one forearm, followed by ultraviolet light exposure to both forearms.24 When comparing participants’ forearms, the researchers noted a significant improvement in response to ultraviolet light in the sardine oil-treated forearm. However, before you run to the store to find the latest creams containing omega-3s, know that oral consumption of omega-3s is much more likely to provide the skin benefits you are looking for.
4) Anti-Wrinkle Effects of PUFAs
When the outermost layer of the epidermis (also known as the skin barrier) loses its water-holding capacity, scaly, rough, and cracked skin is what you may see in the mirror – yikes! Fortunately, the skin barrier’s ability to retain water is influenced by the composition of fatty acids, which can be affected by changes to your diet.25,26 In fact, research shows that supplementation with omega-3 fatty acids can have a positive influence on the skin’s hydration levels.27,28 In a study comparing the effects of supplementation with flaxseed oil or borage oil on women with sensitive skin, it was found that both groups saw positive changes in skin hydration, scaling, and roughness.29 This is not overly surprising as omega-3s from flaxseed and omega-6 GLA from borage oil (which is a “skin-supporting” omega-6 fatty acid not typically consumed in high amounts) are thought to promote a healthy immune response and to prevent the excess production of acute-phase proteins – molecules that are known to affect skin quality.30,31 It is thought that the excess consumption of the omega-6 fatty acids (with the exception of GLA) commonly found in Americanized diets can cause an imbalance in the skin and other organs that may have consequences such as accelerated aging.32,33
5) Stress-busting Properties of Omega-3s
A healthy skin barrier is one that prevents excessive water loss and can prevent foreign substances from getting absorbed that might irritate the deeper layers of the skin. Unfortunately, studies show that stress or sleep deprivation may lead to an unhealthy skin barrier – taking away the youthful look of your skin (which only creates more stress!)34 Another study analyzed how stress impacted the skin of college students by comparing the quality of their skin during exam periods versus vacation periods.35 The results showed that students’ skin barrier function declined during exam weeks compared to when the students were on winter break.
Because stress can disrupt the skin-barrier—and being stressed out has become part of the cultural norm here in America—stress could literally be hurting our country’s image. How do we turn this situation around? The easiest solution would be to simply get rid of unwanted stress, but we all know that’s easier said than done, and according to our recent article – it’s much more challenging to de-stress when your omega-3 status is low. Because omega-3s are thought to dampen the stress response and provide a calming effect, maintaining an adequate intake of omega-3s appears to be beneficial in the context of skin health. For this reason, we recommend you talk to your doctor about getting your omega-3 blood levels tested.
So, what have we learned here? To recap, the overconsumption of processed foods high in sugar and fat can result in an unhealthy gut, and potentially lead to pimpled, dry, wrinkled, and scaly skin. Thankfully, research shows that you can enhance your skin health by consuming a diet that promotes digestive health. Given that omega-3s are thought to promote the “good” bacteria, ensuring an adequate intake of omega-3s is an excellent strategy for achieving the healthy, glowing, and youthful-looking skin complexion you’re after. Omega-3s also appear to increase skin hydration, promote healthy insulin levels, help establish a healthy stress response, and buffer the skin from sun damage—all factors known to affect the overall quality and condition of the skin. In other words, omega-3s have many unique, skin-promoting benefits. But don’t take our word for it—try it and see for yourself.