You must have heard about omega-3, omega-6, and omega-9 fatty acids. When you hear about them, you probably picture a supplement containing fish oil. 

However, they are way more than just that. They toe the thin line between cosmetic care and health care; however, they work both topically and internally to enhance the skin. Plus, they contribute greatly to the overall health of the body. 

So, without further ado, let’s look at omega 3, 6, 9 benefits for the skin and how one should consume them.

Omega 3, 6, 9 Benefits For The Skin

What Exactly Are Omega Fatty Acids?

When it comes to their chemical structure, they’re all different since some of them are monounsaturated fats, whereas the others are polyunsaturated ones. However, they all have a similar cumulative impact on the body when taken together. 

Monounsaturated fatty acids contain one double bond, and polyunsaturated fatty acids have more than one. Omega 9s are monounsaturated, whereas omega 3s and omega 6s are polyunsaturated fatty acids.

Omega 3 Fatty Acids

They are necessary constituents of the membrane that surrounds every cell in the body. They also come with a host of health benefits, ranging from reducing inflammation and cholesterol management to aiding in brain function and development.

The most widely found fatty acids are eicosapentaenoic acids, alpha-linolenic acids,  and docosahexaenoic acids. 

  • Eicosapentaenoic acids1 are long-chained, polyunsaturated fatty acids that are mainly found in seafood like crab, oysters, and salmon.
  • Docosahexaenoic acids2 are also commonly found in seafood like sardines, salmon, herring, mackerel, and tuna.
  • Alpha-linolenic acids (ALA3) are found in walnuts, flaxseeds, chia seeds, canola, and their oils.

As you can see, a major source of omega 3 is fish. As a result, fish oil also contains plenty of omega 3. This is why the names are often used interchangeably, despite different seafood having different content of omega 3s.

Despite the fact that it appears as if the only source for omega 3 is fish, and cold-water fish at that, that isn’t the case. Plants and other non-seafood items also have a high content of omega 3, such as certain juices, milk, yogurt, and even eggs!

Benefits of Omega 3

One of the major health advantages provided by omega 3s is that it helps the neurons in our nervous system relay information more accurately. This is because DHAs are widespread in the brain and the eyes, and they are the two organs primarily used for the transmission of messages.

In addition to that, omega 3 fatty acids also lessen the risks of heart disease1, especially for people who have low HDL and high blood triglyceride levels.

Moving on, omega 3s are also effective aids for people who are trying to lose weight. Studies show that exercise, combined with fish oil, amplifies weight loss multifold. As such, it was found that people who consumed fish oil lost more weight than people who didn’t.

The USDA has recommended consuming fish instead of meat in order to increase the intake of omega 3s. In fact, the American Heart Association recommends eating at least 7 ounces of fish in a week. But if gathering omega 3 from food isn’t viable due to dietary restrictions, fish oil supplements are useful. 

Certain plants are also good sources of omega 3, and people with dietary restrictions can also use them.

Omega 6 Fatty Acids

This is another polyunsaturated fatty acid, which is commonly found in nuts, seeds, and vegetable oils in the form of a compound known as linoleic acid (LA).

Benefits of Omega 6 Fatty Acids

Omega 6 polyunsaturated fatty acids are indispensable for the proper structure and functioning of the cell membrane. However, an excess of omega 6 in one’s body can lead to certain potentially unpleasant side effects.

The American diet is very omega 6-heavy because of the excessive consumption of processed items and food laden with vegetable oil. The consumption-to-requirement ratio of omega 6 to omega 3 is 20:1.8, which is way more than it should be.

The ideal range for omega 6:3 consumption should be 1:1, or at the maximum 5:1.9. From this, we can infer that there is a pressing need to increase the amount of omega 3s in the standard American diet. 

This can be done, for starters, by replacing vegetable oil with olive oil. An unbalanced omega 6:3 ratio over a long period of time can lead to undesirable effects in the body, along with inflammation.

Omega 9 Fatty Acids

The only monounsaturated fat of the lot, it comprises oleic acid, which is commonly found in olives, olive oil, and avocados.

Benefits of Omega 9

Oleic acid is the primary omega-9 fatty acid. It has proven benefits for the brain and the heart and helps reduce instances of stroke and heart disease.

In addition to that, the oleic acid that is present in omega 9 has a profound effect on the behavior and mood of a person. 

A study carried out by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in February 2013 observed that when dietary saturated fat was switched with oleic acid, the participants witnessed visible change. They reported a drastic reduction in hostility and anger and a spike in their energy levels.

Difference Between Omega 3, 6 and 9

Omega 3, 6, and 9 fatty acids significantly differ from each other when it comes to their physical properties and chemical structures. Firstly, omega 3 and omega 6 have more than one double bond, making them polyunsaturated fatty acids.

Whereas omega 9s have just one double bond, thereby making them monounsaturated fatty acids. Moving on, it is pertinent to mention that humans do not have the enzyme needed for the insertion of a double bond in ALA and LA (polyunsaturated fats), which make them essential fatty acids. This is why these can only be ingested into the body through food supplements.

DHA and EPA, which are manifestations of omega 3s, also have an abysmal conversion rate. This is why they should also be consumed in the form of supplements and food so that the necessary level is maintained in the body.

Possible Side Effects Of Fish Oil

There is a certain threshold over which fatty acids mustn’t be consumed because the same can lead to decreased immune function. This limit has been specified by the NHA as 900 milligrams for EPA and 600 milligrams for DHA.

Other side effects observed due to over-intake of fatty acids are:

  • Foul breath
  • Stomach pain and nausea
  • Odorous sweat
  • Heartburn
  • Strange and unpleasant taste in the mouth
  • Upset stomach
  • Headache

What Can Fish Oil Do For The Skin?

1. Acne Reduction

One of the primary causes of acne is inflammation of the skin, and omega fatty acids help to decrease it. In addition to that, omega acids also help alleviate the side effects of isotretinoin, which is a drug used to treat extremely severe and treatment-resistant acne-prone skin.

2. Protection From Sun Damage

Omega acids are also adept at protecting the body from the harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays of the sun. They make the skin less sensitive to sun damage and consequent sunburns and decrease redness and swelling caused by sun exposure. 

In addition to that, omega acids also help in the reduction of the symptoms of photosensitivity disorders. For instance, the consumption of omega 3s helps speed up the healing process of fluid-filled blisters, skin rashes, and hives.

3. Relief From Red, Itchy, And Dry Skin

Skin disorders such as psoriasis and atopic dermatitis cause the skin to become itchy and red. However, omega fatty acids enhance the barrier function of the skin and help keep out irritants by sealing the moisture within the skin.

What’s more, consumption of omega acids by infants and adults alike shows incredible results.

Omega acids also offer a host of other benefits. If applied topically, they have been reported to accelerate the healing process of injuries, boost the growth of hair, and reduce the risk of skin cancer.

Balancing Omega-3 And 6 Fatty Acids

It is necessary to balance the different kinds of fatty acids in one’s diet because an imbalanced consumption can lead to health defects. Earlier in time, humans used to have a diet that was daily well balanced when it came to omega 3s and omega 6s.

However, the current American diet gives far greater weightage to omega 6s, so the issue of balancing the fatty acids has become more relevant. Though omega 6 helps to lower bad cholesterol (or LDL), excessive consumption can increase inflammation in the body.

Researchers have also assessed that when omega 6 consumption is increased to very high levels, the risk of obesity, diabetes, atherosclerosis, and other similar lifestyle diseases goes up exponentially. However, diets that are rich in omega 3 cut out the effects and reduce the risk for these diseases.

High omega 6 levels are also linked to increased insulin resistance and weight gain. However, omega 3 acts as a viable counter to the same. Thus, the study reached the conclusion that a ratio of 1:1 or 2:1 for omega 6:omega 3 is recommended for the body.

Are Fish Oil Supplements A Good Idea?

In case your diet doesn’t consist of fish, or if you’re just not a fan of it, then taking omega fish oil supplements is a good idea. In fact, consuming a fish oil supplement is the most effective way to balance the ratio of omega 3 to omega 6. These supplements are commonly available in the form of soft gel and liquid forms or easy-to-swallow capsules.

In addition to that, omega 3 supplements are manufactured by extracting fish oil from mackerels, herrings, and salmon. As a result, this oil consists of a concoction of omega 3 fatty acids that are made of DHA and EPA.

However, it must be kept in mind that fish oil supplements don’t come free of side effects and could potentially cause some problems. In most cases, the problems are gastric in nature, ranging from indigestion to an upset stomach and nausea. These problems are especially exacerbated in people who already struggle with stomach disorders.

Moving on, there’s no recommended universal dosage for omega fatty acids, but this depends on a case-to-case basis.

Liquid Fish Oil vs. Fish Oil Capsules

Advantages Of Liquid Fish Oil

  • Easy to swallow for people with dysphagia or trouble swallowing
  • Tastes sweet and is usually flavored
  • Can be mixed into salads and smoothies

Disadvantages Of Liquid Fish Oil

  • More susceptible to going bad and rancid once opened
  • Exposure to light and air may change the chemical composition of the oil

Advantages Of Fish Oil Capsules

  • Odorless and tasteless, making it easier to consume
  • Airtight capsules that decrease oxidation and increase the shelf life of the oil
  • Straightforward dosage 

Disadvantages Of Fish Oil Capsules

  • Some people may be allergic to gelatin, the substance that is used to make the capsule gel casing.
  • Some capsule coverings contain animal parts, making them unsuitable for vegans as well as non-kosher.

Final Thoughts 

Now that we’ve reached the end of this article, we’re sure you have a greater understanding of how omega 3, 6, and 9 acids work and their excellent effects on the skin. 

So, good skin health is basically a result of a healthy diet and lifestyle. While omega 3 fatty acids may help enhance the skin texture, quality, and evenness, you must also watch your diet, exercise regularly, and stay hydrated. 

Consuming too many omega fatty acids is not advised, but taking the right amount of supplements will enhance your overall health. With this, we’ll conclude this article, and we sure hope to see you again soon!

References

1.  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3257651/

2.   https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18789910/

3.  https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18522621/

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