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Dry skin that feels tight, itches, and flakes isn’t pretty—and the cause could actually be an essential fatty acid deficiency. “The remedy is to oil your skin from within with the right kind of oils in the right ratio,” says Udo Erasmus, PhD, an authority on the effects of fats and oils on human health, and internationally renowned author of several books, including Fats That Heal, Fats That Kill.
Scientists have given essential fatty acids (EFAs) their name because your body must have them to survive, but it cannot synthesize them from any other substance you eat—hence, the name essential. There are only two kinds of essential fats: omega-3s and omega-6s. All other fats, such as omega-9s, are called non-essential because the body can produce them from sugars and starches.
“The proper ratio of essential fats is important to good health,” says Erasmus. “This isn’t usually achieved because the average Western diet is too high in omega-6s and dangerously low in omega-3s. The result of this imbalance of EFAs in the skin is dryness, dandruff, eczema, psoriasis-like skin conditions, acne, cracked heels, toxic deposits in the skin, skin damage, and increased risk of sunburn.”
Erasmus’ research indicates that the best results come consistently from plant oils blended in a 2:1 ratio of omega-3s to omega-6s. He suggests taking 1 Tbs. of a liquid EFA product per 50 pounds of body weight per day, mixed in food and spread out over the course of the day. Athletes can double the amount.
“Healthy skin needs omega-3s and -6s to form a barrier that prevents moisture from evaporating quickly,” notes Erasmus. “When you don’t get enough oil in your diet, the skin suffers. When skin gets enough oil through the diet, it becomes soft, smooth, and velvety. It also heals and recovers faster.”
Essential fatty acid supplements are easily damaged by light, oxygen, and heat—so topically, it’s best to go with other, less delicate types of fats and oils. “Topical body lotions, face creams, and oils need to be durable,” says Erasmus. “My favorite topical fats are pure coconut oil, shea butter, or lanolin.”
Good Buys …
FLORA Udo’s Oil 3-6-9 Blend provides the ideal 2:1 balance of omega-3 and omega-6 essential fatty acids.
NORDIC NATURALS Nordic GLA from non-GMO borage oil is a great source of omega-6 gamma linolenic acid, known to help improve skin health and beauty, and even benefit skin conditions such as psoriasis.
BARLEAN’S The Essential Woman Swirl in Chocolate Mint is a delicious way to take your omegas, with a balanced blend of omega-3, -6 and -9 fatty acids, including GLA.