Omega-3 fatty acids, also known as polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA), are essential fatty acids, which are substances that the body cannot manufacture. They are vital to the human body function, and must be acquired through food. They play a crucial role in brain function, as well as normal growth and development.
Numerous studies have demonstrated the benefits of omega-3 fatty acids for the heart, decreasing the risk of heart disease. Other benefits include reduction of inflammation and may help lower the risk of chronic diseases such as diabetes, cancer and arthritis. They also favorably affect the skin.
Skin benefits from omega-3 fatty acids involve the epidermis, the skin's outer layer. As we age, the cells become thinner and less sticky. This decreases the barrier function of the epidermis allowing moisture to be released from the skin, causing dryness. Also as epidermal cells start to decrease, the skin slowly loses its ability to repair itself efficiently. Simultaneously, the structural elements that support the skin start to thin. All of these changes promote wrinkling.
Omega-3 fatty acids bolster the skin cell membrane of the epidermis. The skin cell membrane is the outer layer of skin cell and it monitors the intake and disposal of nutrients and waste products entering and leaving the skin cell. The skin cell membrane also influences the ability of the cell to hold onto water. Therefore, if the skin cell holds onto water, it leads to moister, softer skin, which promotes wrinkle prevention and may eradicate existing mild wrinkles. Omega-3 fatty acids contribute to the upkeep of the skin cell membrane, improving the texture and quality of skin.
The sun's ultraviolet light increases the aging process of the skin. Research has demonstrated that omega-3 fatty acids can play a role in decreasing skin damage from UV light and the production of cancer cells caused by the UV light. It has also been shown to contribute to wound healing because of anti-inflammatory properties. It has been used to treat atopic dermatitis, psoriasis and acne.
Omega-3 fatty acids are found in fish like salmon and mackerel, algae, krill, and certain plants and nut oils. Since these fatty acids have so many benefits for the skin, it seemed only logical that topical application in the form of a face cream could have even greater benefits. Omega-3 derived from fish oils became problematic in face creams because of the unmistakable and less than desirable fishy odor. Impurities, such as mercury, can also be present in omega-3 derived from fish. For these reasons, anti-aging facial creams are being developed with omega-3 derived from algae and or plants. After all, the fish get their omega-3 supply from eating algae.
One product due out this fall, Omega Earth and Sea, combines omega-3 fatty acids obtained from the sea, kalparine algae and the land, Echium seed oil, both rich sources omega-3, 6 and 9 fatty acids. Early reviews have been encouraging. Evaluations from consumers selected to try the product included improvement in skin firmness, tonicity and hydration level. 66.7 percent reported perceived smoother skin texture.
Research documents that dietary supplementation with omega-3 fatty acids provide benefits to skin quality and it's aging process. It appears that facial creams containing these fatty acids deliver the ingredient directly to the target, and provide similar benefits. I would like to see research exploring the possible benefits of combining topical and dietary omega-3 fatty acids with regard to skin health and aging. In any case, omega-3 fatty acids should be incorporated into your anti-aging armamentarium.
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