According to a recent University of Illinois study, consuming a diet containing high levels of omega-6 fatty acids may help maintain healthy skin and avoid chronic issues such as dermatitis.
Using a mouse model, the research team discovered that low blood levels of arachidonic acid caused the subjects to develop severe ulcerative dermatitis, a condition characterized by redness of the skin, inflammation and bleeding sores.
After feeding the mice diets that were rich in the compound, lead author Manabu Nakamura, associate professor of food science and human nutrition at the university, and his colleagues found that the condition subsided and the itching symptoms dissipated.
"This new understanding may have implications for treating the flaky, itchy skin that sometimes develops without an attributable cause in infants," said Nakamura. "This new knowledge is a starting point in understanding the mechanisms that are involved, and we need to do more research at the cellular level."
Common dietary sources for omega-6 fatty acids include vegetable oil, soybean oil, acai berries and a variety of nuts. The nutrient may also be taken as a dietary supplement.