Want softer skin? A clearer complexion? Flax seed oil might be able to help.
Studies have found that both omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids can help relieve skin conditions like eczema, acne and psoriasis. An adequate supply of these lipids in the diet can help your skin retain moisture, produce the proper amount of natural oils and protect itself from exposure to outside irritants [source: Benabio].
That's because essential fatty acids ensure that cell membranes do their job of letting the right nutrients in and expelling the bad stuff. When this system breaks down, the cells lose water, leading to dry, cracked, inflamed skin [source: Herbal Powers].
Omega-3 fatty acids also protect your skin by regulating the secretion of prostaglandins, an important hormone that comes in two forms: those that promote inflammation and those that inhibit it. The omega-3 fats produce the enzymatic precursors to anti-inflammatory ("good") prostaglandins. They also block the production of the inflammatory ("bad") prostaglandins from lipids like arachidonic acid [source: First Vitality].
Thus, the balance of fats within the cells determines the health of the skin, as well as hair and nails. For this reason, taking an omega-3 supplement like flax seed might help maintain that balance and prevent things like eczema.
In their quest for beauty, women tend to suffer from these skin problems more often than men do, because they tend to adopt low-fat diets that deprive them of essential fatty acids. Ironically, these fats are one of the most important factors in having healthy, radiant skin [source: First Vitality].
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