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Omega-6 For Healthy Skin

Although we need these essential lipids, omega-6 fatty acids are far too plentiful in modern diets. Ideally, our diets should contain omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids in roughly equal amounts. New research suggests that one omega-6, arachidonic acid, may be necessary for healthy skin. University of Illinois researchers found that when they knocked out a mouse gene responsible for an enzyme that helps make arachidonic acid, the animals developed a severe, itchy skin condition, ulcerative dermatitis. They scratched themselves so much that they developed bleeding sores. The discovery of a potential link between arachidonic acid and skin health may eventually lead to treatments for flaking and itching that sometimes develops without an attributable cause in infants, the researchers said. Arachidonic acid is needed for production of prostaglandins, compounds that can cause inflammation, but the Illinois researchers explained that in their study prostaglandins prevented dermatitis, an inflammatory reaction. When they gave the itchy mice arachidonic acid, the animals resumed making prostaglandins. Omega-6 oils are found in seeds and nuts, and the oils extracted from them.

Learn more about balancing omega-3s and omega-6s in a healthy diet.

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Reader Comments (2)

The terrible thought of mice itching themselves into bleeding sores makes me sick at heart. Mice deserve better. I am glad to know and act upon the information but wish it did not come at fellow mammals' expense.

May 30, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterLeslie

I have terrible itchy hands and feet. Been doctoring for several years nothing helps so I am interested in what you said about Omega 6 oils. they are very dry and crack and scaly.

June 6, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterLorena
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