Essential Fatty Acids for our skin health

Many of us often forget that skin is a multifunctional organ. It is complex and a reflection of our internal and external health whilst performing a multitude of functions, such as being a physical barrier for chemicals, UV radiation protection, insulating and synthesising Vitamin D.

Our skin is defined by two main layers, the epidermis and the dermis, each made up of specialised cell types that perform different roles in each layer. The epidermis is composed of keratinocytes and primarily serves the barrier function, preventing water loss and absorption/ invasion of pathogens and toxins. The main function of the dermis, which consists mostly of collagen and elastin, is to provide physical and nutritional support to the epidermis .One thing we really need to understand the importance of is our skin's barrier. Polyunsaturated essential fatty acids (EFAs) are a primary component for developing healthy cell membranes and a healthy barrier.

Our barrier can become impaired due to many intrinsic and extrinsic factors. Ie; harsh product use over time, synthetics in skincare, poor water quality, pollution in the air and poor nutrition to name a few. When the skin's membrane is impaired it no longer functions correctly leading to acceleration of the ageing process and chronic skin conditions. One main factor we look at closely when restoring one's barrier is Fatty acids (lipids). Cell membranes are made up of fatty acids and therefore inadequate intake of EFAs results in abnormalities in the skin barrier. Some common topical symptoms of EFA deficiency include; flaky skin, brittle hair and nails, itchy reactive skin and psoriasis. 

Omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids are two polyunsaturated fatty acids that are called 'essential' because our bodies cannot synthesize them on their own. This is why it is crucial we ensure you are eating foods rich in omega 3s/ supplementing with good quality sources to obtain optimal skin health.

EFAs are great to help reduce inflammation in the body and skin also. They may reduce the production of cytokine messenger chemicals that cause excessive inflammation. When we experience chronic inflammation, numerous diseases may present- particularly eczema, acne and perioral dermatitis when considering skin.

EFAs make up the building blocks of our skin’s surface layers and are crucial for healthy skin function, helping produce its natural oil barrier which we often unintentionally strip back by over exfoliating and over cleansing our skin. Our natural oil barrier is essential for glowing, smooth, hydrated skin that is less reactive to stressors. 

Topical application of oil is an effective means of delivering EFAs to the skin and is a great add on to anyone's current skin routine. Always ensure you look at both your internal and external intake of EFAs whether you have naturally oily or dry skin. We can all benefit from a diet and skin care routine rich in EFAs. 

Our EFAs of choice from supplementation are the Bioclean Omega triple. To better understand how to incorporate more EFAs into your diet, our Nutritionist Sabra is available online or in clinic via this link

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