The cold season is approaching. And with it often dry skin. If even creams don't bring any improvement, a new strategy is needed. You can also care for your skin from the inside. Omega-3 fatty acids play a big role here. But with a vegan diet you have to combine them wisely in order to get enough of them.
Beautiful skin thanks to omega-3: is it also vegan?
The optimal lipid supply begins with eating
Can you eat healthy skin like a bear eats winter fat? Admittedly, it's not quite that simple. How different foods affect the condition of the skin is very complex. That's why we're concentrating on one aspect here, namely the fatty acids . We have often highlighted how important lipids are in external skin care. They form part of the protective barrier, transport fat-soluble vitamins and prevent the skin from drying out.
But the fats you consume through food also play a role. Through a conscious diet you can, among other things, improve skin moisture and regeneration . The magic word here is omega-3 fatty acids. So let's look at:
What valuable things they contain.
How these ingredients affect the skin.
How to get enough on a vegan diet.
☝️ More on the topic of lipids : You can get an overview of which cosmetic plant oil serves which skin needs under Which oil is good for dry skin? And which oil for impure skin? In the “ Our Ingredients” section we also present the oils in our recipes in more detail.
Omega-3 fatty acids
Omega-3 fatty acids are polyunsaturated fatty acids . What does that mean specifically? You can write entire books about fats in your diet. That's why we have to simplify a lot here.
Saturated fatty acids only serve as a source of energy for the body. And they have a reputation for raising cholesterol levels. Not so good.
Monounsaturated fatty acids also provide energy but leave cholesterol alone. Already significantly better.
Your body needs polyunsaturated fatty acids as building material for the cells and for the immune system. They are essential. This means: They are vital, but the body cannot produce them itself. Therefore, these must be consumed through diet and/or dietary supplements.
The polyunsaturated fatty acids, in turn, differ in their structure and are divided into omega-3 and omega-6 .
Omegas regulate inflammatory processes 🔥
Due to the small but subtle difference in structure, omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids have completely different jobs. Omega-3 has an anti-inflammatory effect , while Omega-6 promotes inflammation 1,2 . Both are necessary, but in the right proportions. If Omega-6 starts fires everywhere and no one puts them out, you won't feel so good in the long run. This also applies to the skin.
Inflammation plays a role in many unpleasant skin conditions . These include neurodermatitis, psoriasis and acne. Redness and an irritated feeling on the skin can really take a toll on your well-being. However, you can counteract this through a conscious diet.
Omega-3 fatty acids and their effect on the skin
Omega-3 fatty acids keep your skin young , protect it and help repair it. We divide it into alpha-linolenic acid, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). What are these tongue twisters capable of?
Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA)
This fatty acid is initially an important energy supplier with additional benefits:
ALA protects blood vessels and promotes blood circulation.
ALA has an antioxidant effect.
ALA is important against an excess of omega-6 fatty acids in the Western diet.
But the body can do more with ALA. It uses enzymes to convert them into EPA and DHA. Approximately 5% of ALA is converted into EPA and 0.5% into DHA. That's not enough, but at least it's something. 3
Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA)
Eicosapentaenoic acid prevents premature skin aging and benefits your skin in several ways.
- It controls oil production and ensures that the skin retains moisture better.
- It prevents the hyper-keratinization of the hair follicles, which means that the skin becomes calloused and the pores become clogged. This manifests itself as pimples or small, red bumps that often appear on the upper arms.
- It controls inflammatory processes . Whether this works in your skin's favor depends on the ratio of omega-3 to omega-6, as we have seen.
Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)
DHA is a structural component of the skin and occurs in the cell membranes. They regulate what is allowed in and what is thrown away. A sufficient supply is therefore necessary to regulate the moisture balance . Docosahexaenoic acid also promotes regeneration. This prevents dryness, feelings of tension and wrinkles.
It's the mixture that counts
Omega-3 fatty acids are in short supply in the Western diet. Unhealthy fats predominate in many dishes, baked goods and so on. And they also lose out when it comes to polyunsaturated fats. On average, we consume ten times as much omega-6 as omega-3.
Now it is the same enzymes that process omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids. That makes them competitors . In order for omega-3 acids to be converted as effectively as possible, they must not have too much competition. Studies show that if we consume too much omega-6, the conversion rate is up to 50% lower. An Omega-6 to Omega-3 ratio of 4:1 to 6:1 4.5 is considered favorable .
A special rule applies to vegans
Japanese cuisine adheres to the optimal ratio in an exemplary manner. And no wonder, there's a lot of fish on the menu here. It is one of the absolute top suppliers of omega-3 fatty acids. He also brings ready-made EPA and DHA.
However, fish is not an option for a vegan diet . Nuts, seeds and vegetable oils are among the top suppliers here. However, they only contain AHA. Your body has to produce EPA and DHA from them first. So two things are particularly important here:
The appropriate amount of Omega-3.
A favorable ratio of Omega-6 to Omega-3.
The best vegan omega-3 suppliers
So how do you get enough good fats without sitting at the table with a calculator? You can get ALA relatively easily through your diet. However, as we have already learned above, the conversion rate to EPA and DHA is too low for you as a vegan to be able to meet your needs . And EPA and DHA are extremely important, not just for beautiful skin, but for health in general.
DHA and EPA and in the vegan diet
There is an ingeniously simple solution for a direct supply of DHA and EPA: algae oil . Did you know that fish also get their high Omega-3 content, including DHA and EPA, from microalgae? So why take the detour via fish oil when you can cover your omega-3 needs with algae instead of animal suffering?
Another advantage of algae oil over fish oil is that algae oil is not contaminated with heavy metals because the algae are not taken from the sea, but rather the microalgae (schizochytrium) are cultivated in freshwater tanks under optimal conditions. My personal favorites are the Omega-3 products from Bruno Zimmer, for example ENNA Care FORTE.
Ideally, you should use algae oil as a dietary supplement and combine it with high-quality foods that contain a lot of algae-linolenic acid (ALA) :
The top 3 ALA suppliers
Linseed oil : With around 57% omega-3 and only 16% omega-6, it's a fantastic product!
Walnut oil : approximately 17% Omega-3
Hemp oil : approximately 13% Omega-3
These oils are ideal for salads or for refining dishes. Linseed oil is a bit of a matter of taste, but it can be combined well. A dash of walnut or hemp oil gives the whole thing a wonderfully nutty aroma. But be careful: please only use it in the cold kitchen . Rapeseed oil is ideal for frying . It is heat-resistant and contains at least 9% Omega-3.
🌻 Better not: sunflower oil! Here the ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 is more than unfavorable at 20:1!
Flax, hemp, chia and flax seeds can be easily sprinkled over muesli or used in baking. And not just for bread. There are delicious cake recipes with chia.
Walnuts, like the oil extracted from them, are excellent sources of Omega-3. If you like a healthy snack, you should grab a nutcracker.
Overall, they have a very balanced spectrum of nutrients. Omega-3 is also part of it. Tofu and soy milk have a permanent place in most vegan cuisine. Now you have even more reason to enjoy them.
Fat is probably the last thing you think of when it comes to greens. But there are also some valuable omega-3 sources here. Top picks include bold green vegetables like kale, spinach, purslane, Brussels sprouts, green beans and avocado. Another dash of linseed oil and you're well on your way.
🥄 Tip : If you want to get your dose of Omega-3 first thing in the morning, simply mix some linseed oil with added DHA and EPA into your muesli or smoothie! Omega-3 fatty acids are best absorbed during a main meal when the bile and pancreas are activated.
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Beautiful skin doesn't just come from the oils we apply topically. What we eat also plays an important role. The skin receives most of its nutrients from within. A diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids supports your skin optimally.
It is better protected from drying out.
It regenerates more effectively and ages less quickly.
Inflammatory skin conditions can be alleviated.
👉 If you eat vegan, make sure you have a balanced ratio of omega fatty acids! Experts recommend consuming Omega-3 and -6 in a ratio of 1:4 to 1:6 . This promotes the conversion of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) into docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) . However, since this alone is not enough, supplement your diet with algae oil so that your body gets enough DHA and EPA.
3 Source Deutsche Apotheker Zeitung, Omegametrix lecture by Prof. C. von Schacky