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Omega-3 for psoriasis: are they useful and where to find them?

Omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to have various health benefits, including improved skin conditions and increased heart health. Research has suggested that omega-3s can improve various signs and symptoms of psoriasis. A comprehensive review of scientific studies, published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, shows that the symptoms of psoriasis of people taking omega-3 improved in 12 studies out of 15. The benefits included improvements in reddening of the skin, pruritus, desquamation and inflammation. The researchers suggest that when taken orally, omega-3 was more effective over a period of 3 months or more. Along with external symptoms, omega-3 can also help with long-term health risks. People with psoriasis are more likely to develop heart disease and omega-3 can reduce the risk of cardiac death and heart disease. Current US dietary guidelines of the US government state that including seafood in the diet is associated with a reduced risk of heart disease. Furthermore, people may have a reduced risk of obesity when they consume seafood.

However, not all studies agree. It is also important to note that many research studies give participants high doses of omega-3 or administer omega-3 by intravenous injection or drip (IV). As a result, the results do not always reflect what people might experience in their daily lives. To get the benefits of omega-3, people should make sure that their supplements contain a balance of EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid). These are present in most fish oil supplements. Speaking with the National Psoriasis Foundation, Wilson Liao, MD, a University of California dermatologist in San Francisco, recommends that people start slowly when they start taking omega-3 supplements. People should take omega-3 supplements during or immediately after a meal for the best effects. Before taking omega-3 for psoriasis, they should talk to a doctor. Research is still ongoing regarding the best sources of omega-3. Supplements are a cheaper option for omega-3s, particularly when someone does not eat fish or seafood.

However, omega-3 can be better absorbed by the body if obtained from food sources than when taken as supplements. There are many ways to supplement omega-3s in the diet. Specific products have different ingredients, so people should read nutrition labels to learn more about what each supplement contains. Some healthy food sources for omega-3 include: salmon, herring, sardines, mackerel, walnuts, linseed oil and chia seeds. There is currently no research suggesting that one source of omega-3 is better than another for psoriasis. Depending on a person’s preferences, they can choose from a range of popular sources of omega-3 supplements. People can find them in many supermarkets or pharmacies. The most common types of omega-3 supplements are: fish oil, krill oil, seaweed oil and linseed oil. Doctors and scientists continue to not know which supplements are the best for improving psoriasis symptoms, but research is ongoing.

A review study suggests that fish oil supplements show better results for people with psoriasis than three other supplements: vitamin D, vitamin B-12 and selenium. The natural remedies that can help, according to the National Psoriasis Foundation, include:

Vitamin D: intake of vitamin D supplements can enhance and maintain the functions of the immune system, which can improve the symptoms of psoriasis, since it is an autoimmune condition.

Turmeric: Turmeric is an anti-inflammatory and antioxidant plant root. Taking oral curcuma supplements can alleviate the symptoms of psoriasis and flare-ups for some people.

Aloe Vera. The use of aloe vera on the skin can reduce redness and peeling.

Probiotics. Since psoriasis has been associated with alterations of intestinal bacteria (microbiota), the integration with milk enzymes present in yogurt and other similar dairy products (eg Kefir), could help to restore a certain balance in the intestinal bacterial composition, thus alleviating the inflammation through influenza on immune cytokines.

  • edited by Dr. Gianfrancesco Cormaci, PhD, specialist in Clinical Biochemistry.

Scientific references

Kristensen S et al. Scand J Rheumatol. 2018 Jan;47(1):27-36.

Yousefzadeh H et al. Complement Ther Med. 2017; 33:65-71.

Omland SH et al. J Eur Acad Dermatol Venereol. 2017;31(7):1161.

Afifi L et al. Dermatol Ther (Heidelb). 2017 Jun; 7(2):227-242.

Dott. Gianfrancesco Cormaci
- Laurea in Medicina e Chirurgia nel 1998 (MD Degree in 1998) - Specialista in Biochimica Clinica nel 2002 (Clinical Biochemistry residency in 2002) - Dottorato in Neurobiologia nel 2006 (Neurobiology PhD in 2006) - Ha soggiornato negli Stati Uniti, Baltimora (MD) come ricercatore alle dipendenze del National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA/NIH) e poi alla Johns Hopkins University, dal 2004 al 2008. - Dal 2009 si occupa di Medicina personalizzata. - Guardia medica presso strutture private dal 2010 - Detentore di un brevetto sulla preparazione di prodotti gluten-free a partire da regolare farina di frumento immunologicamente neutralizzata (owner of a patent concerning the production of bakery gluten-free products, starting from regular wheat flour). - Responsabile del reparto Ricerca e Sviluppo per la società CoFood s.r.l. (leader of the R&D for the partnership CoFood s.r.l.) - Autore di un libro riguardante la salute e l'alimentazione, con approfondimenti su come questa condizioni tutti i sistemi corporei. - Autore di articoli su informazione medica, salute e benessere sui siti web salutesicilia.com e medicomunicare.it