Omegas and why they are important to the skin

Increasing your omega 3 intake has been said to bring a whole host of skin benefits, including helping the skin to stay soft and reducing inflammation but what is omega-3 and how do we get enough to reap the benefits? 

Omegas are a family of essential fatty acids and omega-3 is the most well-known of the bunch. We don’t naturally produce omega-3, which means it’s crucial that we serve our bodies these vital fatty acids through a balanced diet or supplements. Now, fats in general are something we are very used to speaking about in a negative light – however, fats are integral to how our body and our skin work so they should be embraced rather than avoided! The lipid matrix is essential to how our skin’s barrier functions – namely, how it maintains the moisture levels of the skin. If our skin’s barrier function is impaired, we may see skin dehydration, dryness, flaking, redness and irritation. When it’s not working correctly, our skin is not as protected as it should be and external aggressors can irritate it more than it usually would – this includes skincare products and harsh weather. Our barrier needs to be minded in the Winter months, when we essentially attack it by blasting up the heat and then going outside into very cold weather. You may find that your lines and wrinkles appear more prominent during the winter and dehydration could be the culprit. You can also combat this by increasing your intake of essential fatty acids. I like to think of omega-3 as an internal moisturiser, which is why I always recommend it to those with dry skin. In fact, a 2015 study found that fish oil supplementation increased skin hydration, decreased trans epidermal water loss (TEWL) and alleviated itching caused by dry skin.  

Essential fatty acids such as omega-3 have also been shown to accelerate wound healing by enhancing the inflammatory response in the skin. Omega-3 is also said to help with photoaging, skin ageing caused by UV exposure from sunlight, as the fatty acids might be associated with the skin’s photoprotection. Photoprotection is a biochemical process that assists skin cells with molecular damage caused by free radicals.  

Where to find it: Oily fish such as salmon and trout are packed with omega-3 fatty acids, while vegans can get their fill through flaxseed oil and dried chia seeds. You can also find the nutrients within many supplements, especially those aimed at boosting skin resilience and hydration levels. 

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