There’s none in your fish oil
How would you feel if I told you that the gorgeous, soft, silky skin you’re looking for is within reach? But you’re not going to find it in your fish oil container? Would that surprise you? Maybe you were expecting your fish oil to improve your skin significantly? It may be of benefit for your heart and your brain, and may offer some benefit for your skin, but not enough to make it clearly visible to you – or to others! Let’s look at the facts and it will all become clear.
Your skin cells need what all your cells need – the right fats
Every single cell in your whole body needs the right kinds of fats to work properly. And your skin is no exception. It is just so easy to see when skin is not looking its best, because it is always on show, whereas you can’t easily see what cells and tissues look like inside your body!
A membrane surrounds every single one of your cells. This is a covering that surrounds the contents of the cell and allows the cell to work effectively. This membrane also keeps the cell structure intact, acting like a type of skeleton for the cell. The membrane also allows oxygen and nutrients into the cell and toxins out, but can only do this if the right fats are present in the membrane.
Although you can’t see if the cells inside your body are made up of the right kind of fats, it is very easy to look at your skin and see what it looks like. This is why your skin is a reliable indicator of what is going on inside your body.
To enable skin to stay healthy, strong and look great, the actual skin cell has to function optimally. If either the structure or the functioning of the cell is compromised, or impaired in any way, then the skin will reflect that situation.
We need both Omega 3 and Omega 6 in our diet
Although we do need Omega 3 in our diet, we also need Omega 6, and this is where the Essential Fatty Acid or EFA message to the public has become distorted. We need them both, but in the right ratio, while avoiding the damaged Omega 6’s which unfortunately form part of our food supply today. If we don’t obtain both Omega 3 and Omega 6, in an undamaged form, our cells, and therefore our overall health will be compromised. Furthermore, when you consume only one of these Essential fatty Acids you will become deficient in the other one.
So, if you are only consuming Omega 3, whether from fish oil, or from flax oil, you will eventually become deficient in Omega 6, because your body needs both of these critical nutrients, in an undamaged form and in the right ratio.
The ‘missing’ Omega holds the key to great skin
Omega 6 is the essential fat that holds one of the most important keys to skin health. Omega 6 gets converted into a substance called Gamma Linolenic acid, or GLA. GLA is also found in Evening Primrose oil. Evening Primrose oil is capable of influencing a number of important skin parameters.
A double-blind, randomized, placebo controlled study was conducted, looking at the skin of healthy adults. The aim of the study was to see whether evening primrose oil could influence their skin. The results in the specific areas assessed were as follows:
- Skin moisture – skin was more moist, naturally, from the inside
- TEWL – or transepidermal water loss is reduced, which means the skin cell was capable of holding onto moisture naturally
- Elasticity and fatigue resistance – the skin could easily ‘jump’ back to its natural position, when it was touched or moved, which occurs during normal day to day activities, and when it was stretched, it didn’t become damaged, i.e. the skin didn’t tear
- Firmness – the skin became more firm, which reduced the look of ‘sagging’ skin, which helped the skin look younger
- Roughness – the skin was much softer, with rough skin being replaced by much softer skin
The results were significant in these areas, clearly showing that the GLA in evening primrose oil improves both the structure of the skin cell, and its function, which will influence both what skin feels like and what it looks like!
Evening primrose oil is the best source of this special fat, GLA
Although borage oil and black current oils also contain GLA, and can be helpful for skin conditions, the GLA in evening primrose oil has been researched more thoroughly, and although more expensive, is a better choice for overall health. It also has other benefits, such as helping to balance hormones, reducing inflammation in joints and generally, as well as lowering blood ‘stickiness.’
The right ratio of EFA’s will give you the best result
Recent research into the combined effects of Omega 3 and Omega 6 on skin health, highlighted several very important skin parameters that can be improved when both of these EFA’s are consumed. This research indicates that they work together in the skin cells, as they do in all other cells, to produce a much better result than being consumed in isolation. These are the highlights of what the right combination of EFA’s can do:
- Help to heal and maintain the top layer of the skin
- Help this top layer to produce new cells efficiently
- Help to form special cells that hold onto moisture
- Stop the production of compounds that cause inflammation
- Help to increase skins ability to handle sunlight
- Promotes healing of wounds
- Promotes detection and death of cancer cells
When your skin is given the raw materials to heal itself, you will see the result in the mirror. It will not happen overnight, but your cells will slowly become ‘plumped’ up with the right fats. Fortunately, what you’re doing for your skin will also be benefiting the rest of your body. That’s a lot more than you can say for a simple moisturizer!
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Healing fats of the skin: the structural and immunologic roles of the omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids. Clin Dermatol. 2010 Jul-Aug;28(4):440-51. McCusker MM, Grant-Kels JM.
The therapeutic effect of evening primrose oil in atopic dermatitis patients with dry scaly skin lesions is associated wit the normalization of serum gamma-interferon levels. Yoon S, et al. Skin Pharmacol Appl Skin Physiol. 2002 Jan-Feb;15(1):20-5.
Intervention with flaxseed and borage oil supplements modulate skin conditions in women. De Spirt S, et al. Br J Nutr. 2009 Feb;101(3):440-5.
Effect of borage oil consumption on fatty acid metabolism, transepidermal water loss and skin parameters in elderly people. Brosche T, Platt D. Arch Gerontol Geriatr. 2000 Mar-Apr;30(2):139-50.
Gamma linolenic acid: an anti-inflammatory omega-6 fatty acid. Kapoor R, Huang YS. Curr Pharm Biotechnol. 2006 Dec;7(6):531-4.
Herbs & Natural Supplements – An evidence-based guide. Braun, L and Cohen M. Elsevier Australia. 3rd Ed. 2010.