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Fish oil may have a "fishy" smell, but it can help give you smoother skin. Essential fatty acids, such as those found in fish oil, are touted for their healthy heart benefits. They are also important for building and repairing your skin's cellular structure. Although it is not known if adding fish oil to your diet or using it directly on your skin can prevent dryness, using fish oil may help soothe and protect your skin.

Fatty Acids in Fish Oil

Fish oil is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which is one of the two main types of essential fats your body needs. These healthy fatty acids are important for the normal function of your skin and other organs. The Linus Pauling Institute notes that omega-3 fatty acids help keep the heart and vascular system working optimally to circulate blood and nutrients to every cell, including the skin cells. Additionally, fish oil has anti-inflammatory properties that can help soothe inflammation in your body and skin.

Fatty Acids and Your Skin

Fatty acids, such as those found in fish oil, play a key role in healthy skin function and appearance, according to the Linus Pauling Institute. Omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids are necessary to build the structural barrier of the skin, which may help the skin retain moisture and prevent excessive dryness and roughness. Additionally, these fatty acids are needed to produce signaling molecules called eicosanoids, which alert your body to respond to inflammation such as dry, chapped skin. Without the essential fats found in fish oil and other foods, your body would not have adequate nutrients to soothe, heal and rebuild the skin.

Using Fish Oil Topically

You can also use fish oil topically to treat skin irritated by chemicals such as sodium lauryl sofate, notes a 1996 study published in the "British Journal of Dermatology." The researchers found that the lipids found in substances, such as fish oil, directly helped moisturize the skin and soothe redness and irritation. They also acted as a barrier, which prevented excess water loss and also eased dry skin.

Recommended Amounts

You can use fish oil both topically and you can add it to your diet as a food supplement to help prevent and ease dry skin. Even though there is no daily requirement for fish oil, the NYU Langone Medical Center recommends that you get at least 5 grams of fatty acids a day. You can obtain these essential nutrients through a fish oil supplements or by adding fish to a balanced weekly diet. Consult your doctor before taking supplements, as they can cause side effects, such as stomach upset and diarrhea, in some cases.

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About the Author

Nadia Haris

Nadia Haris is a registered radiation therapist who has been writing about nutrition for more than six years. She is completing her Master of Science in nutrition with a focus on the dietary needs of oncology patients.