There is fish oil in fish. Pretty straight forward I suppose but many of us take for granted the nutrients ‘hidden’ in every food we consume. In this article , Dr Nicole Ng takes us behind what many people don’t see in every fish we eat and how it can affect our health, well being and outlook in general.
Omega-3 fatty acids, also known as polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA), are a family of essential fatty acids that your body can’t produce and you must get from the diet. Omega-3 fatty acids are vital for not just your growth and development, but also your skin. In fact, it plays an important role in anti- aging.
Epidermis is the layer that benefits most from omega-3 fatty acids. This layer of skin cell membrane monitors the intake and disposal of nutrients and waste products entering and leaving the skin cell. As we age, the cells become thinner and less adherence leading to loss of barrier function of the epidermis. When this happens, it is harder for epidermis to retain moisture (water) dand this will lead to dryness of the skin. Simultaneously, structural elements supporting the skin starts to thin and this promotes wrinkling.
On top of that, a common occurrence to human skin is sun exposure. The sun’s ultraviolet (UV) radiation increases the aging process of the skin and elicits sagging. This process, also known as photoaging, causes the skin to have fine lines, wrinkles, brown spots and pigment irregularities.
Chronological skin aging can’t be helped (it’s hard to fight time), but photoaging accelerates theprocess and this accounts for 90% of visible changes to the skin.
Omega-3 fatty acids contribute to the upkeep of the skin cell membrane, improving the texture and quality of skin. Research in the fields of cosmetology and dermatology 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 UV light. The lack of essential fatty acids has been shown to increase trans epidermal water loss which results in skin barrier function deficiency (1). Therefore omega-3 fatty acids is able to assist skin cell’s hold onto water leading to moister, softer skin, which promotes wrinkle prevention and may eradicate existing mild wrinkles.
The omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil can improve skin barrier function, inhibit UV-induced
inflammation and hyperpigmentation, improve dry skin and pruritus elicited by dermatitis,
accelerate skin wound healing, and prevent skin cancer development. In fact all the benefits can be achieved by different administration routes, including oral supplementation, topical application, and intravenous injection (2).
Common foods that are high in omega-3 fatty acids include fatty fish, fish oils, flax seeds, chia seeds, flaxseed oil, and walnuts.
For people who do not eat much of these foods, an omega-3 supplement, such as fish oil, is oftenrecommended. It is important to note that impurities, such as mercury, can also be present in omega-3 derived from fish. When choosing a fish oil supplement, it is crucial to make sure that it has potency guarantee, pure and safe (free from impurities).
- Meguro S, Arai Y, Masukawa Y, Uie K, Tokimitsu I. Relationship between covalently bound
ceramides and transepidermal water loss (TEWL) Arch. Dermatol. Res. 2000;292:463–468.
- Huang TH, Wang PW, Yang SC, Chou WL, Fang JY. Cosmetic and Therapeutic Applications of Fish Oil’s Fatty Acids on the Skin. Mar Drugs. 2018;16(8):256. doi:10.3390/md16080256