You've probably heard of omega-3 fatty acids; they are heart healthy and can help protect against strokes and heart attacks. What you may not know is that they're also great for your skin! Here's a closer look at these nutrients and how they can help you get the lovely skin you've always wanted.
What benefits do omega-3s offer for your skin?
Softer, more supple skin. These fatty acids help preserve your skin's suppleness and elasticity. If you have trouble with dry skin, increasing your intake of omega-3s might help. They might also help with eczema, which is often characterized by a dry, flaky rash.
Less inflammation: So many skin conditions, from acne to rosacea, involve inflammation. Omega-3 fatty acids help reduce the body's inflammatory response, so eating more of them may help reduce the number of blemishes you experience. If you have a diagnosed condition, like psoriasis or rosacea, eating more omega-3s may help rid you of those last lingering symptoms that prescription medications and washes don't seem to get rid of.
How many milligrams of omega-3s should you eat?
There's no official daily allowance for omega-3 fatty acids. However, several organizations recommend between 250 and 500 mg of omega-3s per day for mature adults. The FDA has stated that doses of up to 2,000 mg per day are safe. Eating too many omega-3s can lead to thin blood, which puts you at risk for excessive bleeding. A good approach would be to start by aiming for 500 mg per day, and up your dose a little at a time if you're not seeing the skin improvement you desire, being careful not to consume more than 2,000 mg per day. Note that this is a recommended average; if you eat 3,000 mg one day but 0 the next, your average intake is only 1500 mg – which is within the safe limits.
What are some good sources of omega-3s?
While the easiest way to ensure you get enough of these fatty acids is to take a fish oil supplement, you can also improve your intake by just including more omega-3-rich foods in your diet. Here are some of your best options:
- Oysters: 565 mg per serving (6 – 7 oysters)
- Flaxseeds: 2338 mg per serving (1 tablespoon)
- Chia seeds: 4915 mg per serving (2 tablespoons)
- Walnuts: 2542 mg per serving (about 7 walnuts)
As you can see, these foods are very high in omega-3 fatty acids. You don't even have to eat a serving every day in order to meet your needs. A handful of walnuts a few times per week or a tablespoon of flaxseed in your smoothie every other day is sufficient.
To learn more about the best nutrition for your skin, talk to a dermatologist like Henry D. McKinney M.D.