Everybody knows fish oil is good for the heart. In fact, the reason you probably started taking fish oil in the first place was because it lowers cholesterol, improves circulation, and reduces the risk of heart disease. However, very few people know that fish oil is good for your skin, too.
But there really is scientific proof that fish oil can improve the condition of your skin, and even reverse some of the damage that’s already been done. This is not a comprehensive list of fish oil benefits, just a few of the biggest benefits you should know about.
Treat existing skin problems without creating new ones
Some common skin conditions are psoriasis, dry skin, and redness. The issue with treating existing skin problems is more often than not how to treat them without creating new ones. At best, these conditions are annoying, and at worse they may actually interfere with your quality of life. If you have one, you know what I mean. The available treatments are overwhelming, and some have potentially dangerous side effects.
Several studies, including this one published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology found fish oil to be an effective treatment for chronic skin conditions like the ones mentioned. At least two other major studies (here and here) found that after taking fish oil, there was a significant decrease in itching, redness, and scaling. More importantly, there were no adverse side effects associated with treatment. For those who already have skin problems, fish oil can help you treat them without creating more problems.
Prevent skin problems before they ever occur
Nowadays, lots of people are concerned with preventing skin problems before they occur. One major cause of skin problems is frequent or prolonged exposure to the sun. We know that skin that has been exposed to harmful UV rays is more prone to early visible signs of aging, such as wrinkles and sagging. And, we also know that limiting UV exposure is the best way to reduce the risk of skin problems. But you can’t be expected to stay out of the sun all the time, can you?
According to one study, you may not have to. Findings published in the journal of Molecular Biotechnology, suggest that micronutrients like those found in fish oil, provide “photoprotection” by concentrating in areas of tissue that are exposed to light. You can think of fish oil as sunblock from inside out!
Reverse skin damage that’s already been done
There is some promising research suggesting that taking fish oil may actually be able to reverse skin damage that’s already been done. I wont get too technical here, but the problem with unprotected UV exposure is that it causes specific genes in your body to promote a tumor response. Because the mechanisms of cancer are not well understood, it’s often better to avoid these risk factors in the first place. However, new research shows there may be something else you can do to reduce your risks.
A study funded by the National Institutes of Health and published by the National Academy of Sciences, found that the omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil significantly reduces activity from tumor-producing genes activated by UV exposure. Now, that’s hot!
Find out which omega-3 is right for your skin care needs
Undoubtedly, you’ve already read my earlier posts about how not all omega-3 fatty acids are the same. If you’re taking fish oil specifically to improve your skin, you’ll need to find out which omega-3 is right for your skin care needs.
Existing studies have shown that EPA is better for treating skin that’s been bombarded by the sun. Indeed, one study published in the Journal of Lipid Research showed that EPA significantly inhibits specific cells responsible for UV-related aging, while DHA did not.
Other studies have shown that DHA is better at reducing the inflammation underlying chronic skin conditions. In particular, findings from a study published in the Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition suggest that when taken by pregnant women, DHA is superior to EPA at preventing skin conditions in children later in life. You can read more about the benefits of fish oil for kids in another post of mine.
Summing everything up
To sum everything up for you, taking fish oil can improve your skin in a number of ways. You’ve learned that fish oil can help treat existing skin conditions, prevent problems before they occur, and you’ve even discovered which omega-3s you should use depending on your own needs.
Now, if you’re thinking about breaking open some soft gels and schmearing fish oil on to your face and hands, slow down there!
While a few studies have examined topical fish oil use, you’re actually getting these skin-healthy benefits from regular daily oral supplements. And, if you haven’t started taking fish oil yet, you should know that most of the studies reviewed here lasted an average of 10 weeks. Here’s to having the best skin of your life!