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].
For more on flax seed, visit the links below.
Related HowStuffWorks Articles
- Benabio, Jeffrey. "Flax Seed Oil and Your Skin." (Accessed March 15, 2009)http://thedermblog.com/2008/06/06/flax-seed-oil-and-your-skin/
- Budwig Flax. "The Flax Healing Miracle." (Accessed March 14, 2009)http://www.budwigflax.com/Articles/Flax_Miracle.html
- Erasmus, Udo. "Flax Oil (ALA) and Prostate Cancer." (Accessed March 15, 2009)http://www.udoerasmus.com/articles/udo/flax_prostate.htm
- First Vitality. "Essential Woman from Barlean's Organic Oils." (Accessed March 15, 2009)http://www.1stvitality.co.uk/barleans/essentialwoman1.htm
- Garvin, Lisa. "Flax Seed for Prostate Cancer." Cancer Newsline Audio Podcast Series, January 5, 2009. (Accessed March 14, 2009)http://www.mdanderson.org/transcripts/CNL_Flax_Seed_For_Prostate_Cancer_Transcript.html
- Greene, Moss. "Side Effects of Flax Seed Oil." (Accessed March 14, 2009)http://www.bellaonline.com/articles/art30385.asp
- Healing Daily. "Flaxseed and Health." (Accessed March 14, 2009)http://www.healingdaily.com/detoxification-diet/flaxseed.htm
- Herb Wisdom. "Flaxseed Oil." (Accessed March 14, 2009)http://www.herbwisdom.com/herb-flaxseed-oil.html
- Herbal Powers. "Flax Seed Oil Products." (Accessed March 15, 2009)http://herbal-powers.com/flaxseedoil.html
- Ho, Cosmas. "Omega 3 Essential Fatty Acids." (Accessed March 15, 2009)http://www.omega3sealoil.com/Chapter3_2.html
- Medline Plus. "Flaxseed and Flaxseed Oil." (Accessed March 14, 2009)http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/patient-flaxseed.html
- Mercola, Joseph. "New Studies on Chronic Itchy Skin (Eczema)." (Accessed March 15, 2009)http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2008/01/02/eczema-part-five.aspx
- Schardt, David. "Just the Flax: A 'Miracle' Seed Comes Down to Earth." Nutrition Action Healthletter, December 2005. (Accessed March 14, 2009)http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0813/is_10_32/ai_n15899426
- Science Daily. "Flaxseed Stunts the Growth of Prostate Tumors." (Accessed March 14, 2009)http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/06/070603215443.htm
- Sundene, Nicole. "Fish Oil vs. Flax Oil? The Great Debate." (Accessed March 14, 2009)http://www.kitchentablemedicine.com/fish-oil-or-flax-oil-the-great-debate/
- Thompson, Jenny. "Secret in the Seed." Health Sciences Institute e-alert, August 2004. (Accessed March 14, 2009)http://www.hsibaltimore.com/ealerts/ea200408/ea20040823.html
- Weil, Andrew. "The Facts on Flax." (Accessed March 15, 2009)http://www.physicalexamnyc.com/the-facts-on-flax/