If you have oily skin, you may be wary of taking oil-based supplements. But is it time to put those fears to bed? Evidence shows omega-3 fatty acids could help.
We’re often told to avoid using oily skin products, or taking oil-based supplements, if we have oily skin. But research suggests that omega-3 fatty acids could help balance out oily complexions.
Genetics play a role in determining our skin type, but other factors have a huge impact too. Changes in sebum production – the ‘oil’ on our skin – are determined by changes in our hormone levels. In turn, our hormones are influenced by lifestyle factors such as stress.
We may not be able to change the cause of our stress, like a demanding boss, but we can manage how our body responds to stress.
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Omega-3 fatty acids have a key role in stabilising the hormones involved in the body’s stress response. For example, research has shown that omega-3 supplements tend to reduce levels of cortisol, a stress hormone linked with sebum production.
Scientists say inflammation has an impact on sebum production, leading to oily skin. But eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) – a type of omega-3 – is known to help prevent the production of some anti-inflammatory chemicals.
The bad news is most of us don’t eat enough EPA, found mainly in oily fish. Instead, we consume too much omega-6, a fatty acid linked to inflammation, which is found in vegetable oils, meat and dairy. The result? Chronic inflammation.
Fortunately, research shows that omega-3 supplements help reduce inflammation in the oil glands by curbing production of inflammatory substances which may go on to reduce sebum production.
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Oily skin may also be a reaction to dehydration. Omega-3 fatty acids are responsible for maintaining healthy membranes around our skin cells, but a deficiency reduces the skin’s ability to absorb and retain water, causing dehydration or dry skin.
Upping your intake of omega-3 fatty acids may help improve hydration by boosting the skin’s natural barrier. This should then stop the skin producing excess oil in order to protect itself.
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Advice is for information only and should not replace medical care. Please consult a doctor or healthcare professional before trying any remedies.
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