Dry Skin & Fish Oil
The therapeutic effects of fish oil in relation to cardiovascular disease, arthritis and brain function are well documented. In recent years, however, fish oil has been touted as a remedy for dry skin. A Swedish study tested the use of topical fish oil as a remedy for chemically irritated skin and found no special benefits. Claims supporting fish oil's dry-skin benefits when taken orally are anecdotal, and research is inconclusive.
Your skin is your body's largest organ, which functions as a physical and immunological barrier against micro-organisms. Skin also acts as a sensory tool to help you navigate your environment by touch. Skin is composed of a fatty subcutaneous layer, a dermal layer, which is composed of collagen and other fibers, and an exterior epidermis, which you see.
Dry Skin or Allergy?
The epidermis sheds every two weeks and can appear drier when you are dehydrated or the weather is cold. Sometimes your skin can become too dry. It is important to know the root cause of your dry skin before you begin to treat it. Atopic dermatitis is a common condition characterized by dry, flaky patches of skin. It is caused by an allergic reaction or exposure to harsh chemicals, according to the American Academy of Dermatology.
Keratosis pilaris is a genetic skin condition that usually affects children and teenagers. Karatosis pilaris is characterized by areas of skin that are full of small, sometimes itchy bumps. These bumps are actually hair follicles that have become blocked with dead skin cells. The condition usually resolves by adulthood.
Dietary Fish Oils
Fish oil is a source of omega-3 acids known as eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid. Fish eaters can find rich sources of both EPA and DHA in fatty coldwater fish such as halibut, cod, salmon and mackerel. You can also find fish oil in capsule form at any pharmacy. When ingested, EPA and DHA act as anti-oxidants that have cardio-protective properties. But MedlinePlus, a service of the U.S. National Library of Medicine, says there is not enough evidence to conclude that fish oil improves any skin conditions when taken orally.
There are some risks to be aware of when you take fish oil. In high doses, fish oil can cause a hemorrhagic stroke or gastrointestinal distress. Nausea, heartburn, bloating and acid reflux are some of the symptoms of this GI upset. Take your fish oil supplement with a meal to reduce such symptoms. Fish oil also interacts with some drugs and herbs. For example, fish oil lowers blood pressure and can augment the effects of blood-pressure-lowering medicines. If you are already taking medications and/or herbs, it is best to speak to your physician before consuming fish oil.
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