If you're experiencing dry, scaly skin, you might just need to add a few more servings of fish into your diet. Omega-3 fatty acids -- and particularly eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) -- are essential for healthy skin and hair. EPA helps regulate oil production in your skin. Having plenty of this essential fatty acid in your body keeps your skin hydrated and prevents it from drying and flaking.
Omega-3 fatty acids can also help protect your skin from damage. When your body is exposed to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun, harmful substances called free radicals are generated, which can damage cells and lead to cancer and premature aging. Omega-3 fatty acids act as an antioxidant that protects your body against these substances.
The fatty acids not only protect against sun damage, they actually help repair it. When you're exposed to the sun's harmful UV rays, EPA can help prevent the release of enzymes that destroy collagen, warding off sagging skin and wrinkles [source: Health Magazine]. Some research has suggested that omega-3 fatty acids might also help prevent certain types of skin cancer, but this hasn't been proven [source: Baumann --please link to LMI]
Because of their anti-inflammatory properties, omega-3s can also help relieve skin conditions like rosacea, psoriasis, and eczema.
Omega-3s are even good for the skin on top of your head. Without enough of these nutrients, your scalp can start to get dry and flaky, and your hair can lose its luster. [source: WebMD]
While you're using omega-3 fatty acids to keep your own hair and skin looking lustrous, you can also use it on your dog or cat. Omega-3s are often given to pets to improve the health of their skin and coat.
For more health information, take a look at the links below.
More Great Links
- Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. "Effects of Omega-3 Fatty Acids on Cardiovascular Risk Factors and Intermediate Markers of Cardiovascular Disease." (Accessed 5/30/10)http://www.ahrq.gov/clinic/epcsums/o3cardrisksum.htm
- American Cancer Society. "Omega-3 Fatty Acids." (Accessed 5/30/10)http://www.cancer.org/docroot/ETO/content/ETO_5_3X_Omega-3_Fatty_Acids.asp
- American Heart Association. "Fish and Omega-3 Fatty Acids." (Accessed 5/30/10)http://www.americanheart.org/presenter.jhtml?identifier=4632
- American Heart Association. "Fish, Levels of Mercury and Omega-3 Fatty Acids." (Accessed 5/30/10)http://www.americanheart.org/presenter.jhtml?identifier=3013797
- "Are Fish Oil Supplements Good for the Skin?" Health Magazine. (Accessed 5/31/10)http://living.health.com/2009/03/26/fish-oil-supplements-skin/
- Barclay, Laurie. "Fighting Depression and Improving Cognition with Omega-3 Fatty Acids." Life Extension Magazine, October 2007. (Accessed 5/30/10)http://www.lef.org/magazine/mag2007/oct2007_report_depression_01.htm
- Baumann, Leslie. "Cosmetic Dermatology: Principles and Practice." New York, NY: McGraw Hill Professional, 2009.
- BBC. "The Omega Wave." (Accessed 5/31/10).http://www.bbc.co.uk/science/humanbody/mind/articles/intelligenceandmemory/omega_three.shtml
- Boyles, Salynn. "Pregnant? Omega-3 Essential for Baby's Brain. July 16, 2004. (Accessed 5/30/10).http://www.webmd.com/baby/news/20040716/pregnant-omega-3-essential-for-babys-brain
- Cleveland Clinic. "The Power of Fish." (Accessed 5/30/10).http://my.clevelandclinic.org/heart/prevention/nutrition/omega3.aspx
- Covington MB. Omega-3 Fatty Acids. "American Family Physician." 2004;70:133-140.
- Harvard School of Public Health. "Omega-3 Fats: An Essential Contribution - What Should You Eat?" (Accessed 5/30/10).http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/what-should-you-eat/omega-3-fats/
- MacLean CH, Newberry SJ, Mojica WA, Khanna P, Issa AM, Suttorp MJ, et al. "Effects of omega-3 fatty acids on cancer risk." JAMA. 2006;295:403-415.
- Marshall, Keri. "Omega-3 Fatty Acids for Mom and Baby." American Pregnancy Association. (Accessed 5/30/10).http://www.americanpregnancy.org/pregnancyhealth/PEfattyacids.html
- Mayo Clinic. "Omega-3 in Fish. How Eating Fish Helps Your Heart." (Accessed 5/30/10).http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/omega-3/hb00087
- National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. "Rheumatoid Arthritis and CAM." (Accessed 5/30/10).http://nccam.nih.gov/health/RA/
- Parker, Hilary. WebMD. "Top 10 Foods for Healthy Hair." (Accessed 5/31/10).http://www.webmd.com/skin-beauty/features/top-10-foods-for-healthy-hair
- Richards, Linda. "Fatty Acid Benefits: How Omega-3s Reduce Inflammation." (Accessed 5/31/10).http://www.arthritistoday.org/nutrition-and-weight-loss/healthy-eating/food-and-inflammation/fatty-acids-benefits.php
- Ryan AM, Reynolds JV, Healy L, Byrne M, Moore J, Brannelly N, et al. Enteral nutrition enriched with eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) preserves lean body mass following esophageal cancer surgery: results of a double-blinded randomized controlled trial. Annals of Surgery. 2009;249:355-363.
- "Scientists Learn How Food Affects The Brain: Omega 3 Especially Important." ScienceDaily, July 11, 2008.http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/07/080709161922.htm (Accessed 5/30/10).