Fish is an important food source for most people. Fish is rich in high-quality protein, and depending on the type, it may be low on fat, and rich in vitamins, such as vitamin A and D, and minerals, such as calcium, iodine, selenium, phosphorus, potassium and iron. Fish is also rich in omega-3 fatty acids, a family of fatty acids commonly known for their roles in reducing risks of heart disease. It is only lately that omega-3 fatty acids have been gaining popularity for their critical role in promoting healthy skin.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3 fatty acids are polyunsaturated fatty acids (beneficial fats when taken in moderation) that can be found in good amounts in fishes such as herring, mackerel, salmon, anchovies and tuna. The two major types of essential fats found in fishes are DHA (Docosahexaenoic acid) and EPA (Eicosapentaenoic acid). In several researches, EPA component of fishes plays a major role in skin care.
EPA in Fish Protects the Skin from Sun Exposure
In a research published in the Journal of Lipid Research, it was discovered that EPA can block the release of enzymes usually induced by the UV emitted by the sun. These enzymes eat away on the skin collagen and elastin, reducing the skin’s firmness which would consequently result to wrinkles and skin sagging.
EPA in Fish as an Anti-Inflammatory and an Antioxidant
Chronic inflammation in skin occurs at a cellular level in the skin and can speed up skin aging by accelerating fine lines, wrinkles, enlargement of the pores, puffiness, blotchiness and sagging. Inflammation can also be visible by the presence of hives, acne and pimples. As a powerful anti-inflammatory, EPA in fish helps the body reduce inflammation by significantly diminishing the production and effectiveness of various prostaglandins, a hormone-like chemical that highlights inflammation.
A fish diet rich in Omega-3 is recommended for the prevention of common pimples. EPA also has antioxidant qualities. Antioxidants are known to be the most age-defying substance and rightfully so. They are known to combat free radicals. Free radicals are harmful by-products produced when oxygen is used up by the body. They are unstable molecules which target protein in the skin, resulting to skin damage and weakening of the skin cell structure. It also alters DNA which results in, not only aging, but other illnesses as well.
EPA in Fish as Inhibitors of Androgens and Arachidonic Acid
Another important role of EPA in fish is that it helps in inhibiting the production of androgens–hormones that produces sebum in hair follicles. Excess production of these sebum results to oily skin, leading to acne and other skin problems. EPA also limits the production of Arachidonic acid. High levels of these are found in people with Psoriasis–an inflammatory skin disease.
The skin is the largest organ of the body and like all other organs, plays an important role in body functions. There are several fish oil supplements available in the market today. Most experts, however, just recommend eating 2 to 3 servings of fatty fish a week. Proper diet and balanced nutrition is important not just for a healthy skin, but a healthy well-being as well.