Written by Ben Carlisle
Last updated on: Sep 18, 2022
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The terms omega-3, omega-6, and omega-9 aren't as mystical as they may sound. Instead, the numbers describe the position of the first carbon-carbon double bond in the fat. More so, the placement influences the fat molecule's shape, affecting its function in your body. So, what role do these fatty acids play regarding the skin?
Omega 3-6-and -9 fatty acids play a pivotal role in reducing inflammation, guarding against red, dry, and itchy skin by improving skin elasticity and barrier functions by sealing in moisture and preventing irritants from seeping into the pores. Omegas also reduce wrinkles and hyperpigmentation.
Following a healthy diet, skin care regimen, and consuming additional supplements throughout the year is guaranteed to support your body and skin health in the long haul. Therefore, you can't ignore the benefits of omega-3-6-and-9 -here's why.
The final letter in the Greek alphabet is Omega, signifying the last or end of something. However, when applied to dietary facts, "omega" signifies a healthy beginning.
Omega 3-6 and -9 are fatty acids and essential dietary fats. Each fatty acid provides numerous health benefits for your body; however, it is critical to achieving the right balance between them to prevent contributing to various chronic diseases.
Essentials fatty acids are beneficial fats that your body cannot produce on its own, requiring you to obtain them through your diet. The two primary essential fatty acids are:
• Linoleic acid (omega-6 group)
• Alpha-linolenic acid (omega-3 group)
According to estimations, the ratio between omega-6:omega-3 in most Western diets is around 15:1 due to the rapid increase in using vegetable oils along with a decrease in fish consumption (1).
Studies show that increasing your intake of specific essential fatty acids, whether alone or in combination, can increase your overall health by improving your body composition, mental health, and physical performance and treating certain diseases (2).
Omega-3 essential fatty acids are polyunsaturated fats - meaning that omega-3's have double bonds in their chemical structure at three carbon atoms away from the tail end of the molecular chain.
Among the long list of omega-3 fatty acid varieties, the three most common fats include:
Omega-6 fatty acids are also polyunsaturated fatty acids. However, its last double bond is six carbons away from the omega end of the molecule. Omega-6 mainly provides energy and converts into arachidonic acid (AA), a longer omega-9 fat that plays a vital role in the immune system but is pro-inflammatory (6).
So, too much AA can increase the risk of inflammation (6).
Therefore, we should consume a healthy and balanced ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids between 1:1 and 4:1 instead of the average 15:1 that most Westerners consume (1, 7).
Lastly, omega-9 is a monounsaturated fatty acid, meaning that it only has one double bond located at nine carbons from the omega end of the molecule.
An omega-9 fatty acid isn't strictly "essential," like omega-3 and -6, as the body can produce it. However, consuming omega-9 fatty acids instead of other saturated fats offers a range of health benefits.
Oleic acid, the most prevalent omega-9 fatty acid, improves insulin sensitivity and decreases inflammation (8).
Taking an omega-3-6-9 supplement can help increase the intake of omega-3 fats, further enhancing the balance and creating an optimal ratio of fatty acids.
However, most individuals already consume excess amounts of omega-6, and the body can produce omega-9 naturally. For this reason, try to limit your omega-6 intake and focus on using a supplement with a higher omega-3 ratio.
Consuming these three omega fatty acids will help maintain and improve your heart's health, prevent inflammatory conditions, support growth and development, and keep your skin healthy.
While omega-9 isn't a dietary essential fatty acid because your body naturally creates an abundance, it is critical for our cells to function. Studies suggest that using it topically or drinking it as a supplement offers numerous benefits for your skin.
Wound healing typically consists of three overlapping phases: inflammation, tissue formation, and tissue remodeling (24). Early on, inflammation is necessary to clear foreign particles and initiate new tissue formation; however, chronic inflammation can be detrimental by delaying healing.
Given the critical roles of omega-3-6- and 9 in the structural integrity and modulation of the skin's response to inflammation, it only makes sense that these essential fatty acids influence the rapid response to wound healing (25).
After a study conducted on 18 individuals, the polyunsaturated fatty acids had reduced inflammation and increased plasma, which was beneficial for wound healing. Thus, we concluded that you could manipulate the lipid mediator profiles by altering the omega fatty acid intake to create a microenvironment more conducive to wound healing (26).
Consuming additional omega 3-6-9 supplements along with a well-balanced diet will make a world of difference to your precious skin in the long run.
Omega-3-6- and -9 do wonders for your skin by improving its overall moisture, firmness, permeability, and elasticity. More so, they help the skin cells in differentiation and maturation by inhibiting its inflammatory response and getting rid of free radicals, in turn encouraging speedy wound healing.
Enjoy your dewy, youthful skin!