Unfortunately, ALA consumption has dropped significantly in modern times, while, by comparison, most people’s intake of omega-6 fats like linoleic acid has increased dramatically.
If we want to address skin problems like acne, dry and flaky skin, eczema and psoriasis, or just have better skin in general, then flaxseed oil can help redress this imbalance.
Omega-6 and Inflammation
Most of us, eating a modern Western diet, even a relatively healthy one, are consuming far more omega-6 fatty acids like linoleic acid and arachidonic acid than omega-3s such as alpha linolenic acid, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).
The problem with this is that omega-6 fats, while essential in our diet in small amounts, can create an overabundance of inflammatory series 2 prostaglandins when consumed in excess. These prostaglandins are implicated in a wide variety of diseases of inflammation throughout our bodies. Specifically for skin problems like acne, eczema and psoriasis, eating too much omega-6 fat is considered often a factor in outbreaks for many sufferers.
With linoleic acid rich vegetable oils like corn, sunflower, cottonseed and soybean oil being added to an increasing percentage of processed supermarket foods in recent years, it is becoming more and more difficult to avoid getting high levels of omega-6 fatty acids in our meals.
Better Skin with Omega-3
Omega-3 fats, on the other hand, are used to create series 3 prostaglandins, which can have an anti-inflammatory effect on the body, including the skin. Many people report significant improvements in a variety of skin problems when they increase their intake of omega-3 fatty acids and even apply them topically.
Alpha linolenic acid is the parent omega-3 fatty acid and can be converted to both EPA and DHA. While ALA has many beneficial properties for the skin in its own right, such as being an amazing internal and external moisturizer, it is EPA and DHA that are needed for the creation of anti-inflammatory prostaglandins. Since their conversion from ALA is not considered to be that effective (particularly for men regarding DHA), a high EPA/DHA fish oil may be a better choice for reducing skin problems caused by inflammation.
There is much more detailed information on how omega-6 fats cause inflammation problems in Treating Eczema with Avocado Oil.
Additionally, the page on Psoriasis, Avocado Oil and Fish Oil – A Topical Treatment has a method for applying avocado oil and fish oil (or flaxseed oil) to the skin that may be of great benefit for sufferers of both conditions.
Acne problems and skin redness and flakiness are also often reported as greatly improved by increasing dietary intake of a good source of omega-3s such as flax oil.
Flaxseed Oil Dosage for Better Skin
Regarding flaxseed oil dosage, at least 2 grams or more a day, preferably 8 to 10 grams, split between breakfast and dinner, is an often recommended dose for better skin.
It is best to start slowly, perhaps with 1 gram in the morning and 1 gram in the evening for a week. In the following weeks you could double this amount and see how it is tolerated.
Continue doing this until you start to see improvement by the end of the week for that particular dose. For many people this will be around 8 to 10 grams per day. If you do wish to go beyond there, switch back to adding an extra 1 or 2 grams per week rather than doubling your dosage. Your skin may just need a little more time to respond.
Occasionally, a initial detoxification effect is experienced, where symptoms are temporarily worsened. In cases like this it would be best to cut the dosage back to a half, or even a quarter, and gradually increase the amount taken over coming weeks as your bodies tolerance level increases.
Flaxseed oil is usually cheaper than fish oil and has many other benefits, so even with its lower converted EPA/DHA, it is still an excellent addition to the diet for those looking to improve their skin. Even better, you could take both flaxseed oil and a high-quality fish oil daily to really feed healthy skin cells.
Next is a look at using flaxseed oil for dry skin, both internally and topically as an evening moisturizer.
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