Higher EPA Omega-3 Intakes Associated with Less Photoaging of the Skin in Women

September 2, 2013


Association between Dietary Intake of n-3 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids and Severity of Skin Photoaging in a Middle-aged Caucasian Population
Latreille et al., Journal of Dermatological Science, in press, 2013
University of Paris, Centre of Research on Human Nutrition Ile de France, Paris, France


‘Photoaging’ is the process of aging of the skin due to regular and long-term exposure to ultra-violet radiation. The photoaging of human skin results from a number of aging factors (both internal and external) and the long-chain omega-3 fatty acids (EPA and DHA) have been implicated in modulating inflammatory processes associated with the skin. In the present study, 2919 subjects (both genders) ages 35-60 were assessed for their intakes of omega-3 fatty acids from various food sources including EPA/DHA from fish and seafood by dietary records and nutrient compositions of the foods consumed. Furthermore, the severity of facial skin photoaging was assessed (pigmentation anomalies, wrinkling, slackening) using a 6-grade scale of photodamage as depicted by reference photographs during medical examination by physicians.

After adjusting for possible confounding variables, severe photoaging was found to be inversely associated with higher intakes of EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) in women. As the average EPA intakes of the women (as % of total energy) increased, there was a significantly lower severity of photoaging. Assuming an average energy intake of 2100 kcal/day , the women in the top 25 % with respect to EPA intake (equal to or above 200 mg /day) had a 31 % lower severity of skin photoaging as compared to those women in the bottom 25 % with respect to EPA intakes (less than 61 mg/day).

Dr. Holub's Comments:

The present findings support an apparent beneficial effect of omega-3 fatty acid intakes (particularly EPA in women) on photoaging of the skin. The anti-inflammatory bioactive products formed from EPA in various cells (including neutrophils , others) may play a role as well as the ability of increased EPA intake from fish/seafood and supplementation to suppress the synthesis of pro-inflammatory products formed from arachidonic acid (a long-chain omega-6 fatty acid) . The higher intakes of EPA in the present study found to be associated with a lessened severity of photoaging in women are markedly above average daily intakes of EPA in various countries including North America (approx. only 35 mg/day).

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