What is the role of essential fatty acids when it comes to skin?

October 10, 2017

Skin requires omega-3, omega-6, EPA and HDA essential fatty acids to function optimally.

Welcome to Be Healthy! Be Happy! Skin Health 101, I’m Dr. Jim.

Abundant essential fatty acids are critical to the maintenance of healthy skin. And if this vital organ is to make good on the daunting tasks of regulating body temperature, protecting internal organs from UV light, blocking the loss of internal fluids, and preventing the entrance of harmful germs into our bodies, consumption of essential fatty acids is essential!

Furthermore, humans cannot synthesize essential fatty acids internally, so they must be consumed, which is another reason we call them essential.

Essential fatty acids are mainly of the omega-6 and omega-3 variety, with eicosapentaenoic acid or EPA and docosahexaenoic acid or DHA essential components of the omega-3 line.

Omega-6 fatty acids work to promote the structural characteristic of skin and play critical roles in maintaining its barrier function. Omega-3 fatty acids on the other hand promote optimum skin function by blocking the damaging effects of UV light as well as maintaining its overall function.

Foods rich in omega-6 fatty acids include nuts, and seeds as well as safflower and corn oil. Omega-3s are abundant in flax seeds, walnuts, and canola oils, with EPA and DHA found in herring, salmon, crab and oysters.

Essential fatty acids are not found in red meat, chicken, butter, cheeses or coconut oil.

Flax seed, primrose, krill and fish oils are excellent supplement sources of essential fatty acids, however, fish oils run the risk of contamination with mercury and polychlorinated biphenyls or PCBs, both which are toxic to humans.

Finally, lotions and creams formulated with sunflower, evening primrose, and safflower oils are excellent sources for topical application of essential fatty acids.

The is Dr. Jim for Be Healthy! Be Happy! hoping that this message powers your path to happiness!


Oregon State University Linus Pauling Institute Micronutrient Information Center. Online [available at]: http://lpi.oregonstate.edu/mic