Oil is a bit of a bad word when it comes to skin, but not when it comes to eating! Several types of oils, including nut and fish oil, are filled with EFAs, or essential fatty acids. These chemicals are vital to a number of health functions and are linked to having vibrant, healthy skin.

What Are Essential Fatty Acids?

EFAs are a category of complex fats that your body needs to be healthy but it cannot produce these on its own. There are two essential fatty acids, omega-3 and omega-6. EFAs are involved in a complex chain of reactions that our body uses to regulate many functions, including cell growth, nerve communications and inflammation. More topically speaking, your body needs an abundance of EFAs to keep your skin healthy.

Natural Sources

If you are looking to increase your EFA intake, first examine your diet. Many fish are abundant in the omega-3 EFA including salmon, mackerel, and sardines. The omega-3 EFA is also found in nuts, flax, soy and eggs. The omega-6 acid (called linoleic acid) is much easier to come by and is found in poultry, many cooking oils (corn oil is nearly 60% linoleic acid, while canola oil is about 20%) and many baked goods. The easiest way to add EFAs to your diet is to simply buy some flax or linseed oil. These are rich in both omega-3 and omega-6 acids and are delicious in salad dressings but be aware that unrefined oils such as flaxseed oil have a low smoke point and should not be heated.

Supplements

Research has shown that both dietary supplements and topical application of EFAs can be effective for improving skin health. Omega-3 products can help repair sun damaged skin, reverse the effects of aging, and help reduce rashes and other redness. Omega-6 supplements are used to help with sensitivity and inflammation, and to boost the effect of any omega-3 supplements. The dosage and combination you will want to use depends on a number of factors such as your skin’s health, the results you want, and finally your age. Be sure to stop by for a consult at Essence of L Medi Skin clinic so we can help recommend the best products to use to help get the results you are looking for.

On a final note, several fatty acid supplements (including fish oil) have a blood thinning effect. If you have any active health concerns that could interact with this, please consult your doctor before taking any EFA supplements. If you do take fish oil, be mindful that your answer to “are you on any blood thinners” should include this information.

For further reading on essential fatty acids: http://lpi.oregonstate.edu/mic/health-disease/skin-health/essential-fatty-acids

Written by Leah LaVanway