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Nutrition is essential for healthy and young-looking skin. Vitally important for keeping the skin in good condition is not just what you apply topically - more importantly, it is what goes in. The skin needs good fats such as EPA (omega-3), GLA (omega-6 from virgin evening primrose oil) and oleic acid (omega-9), as well as wholefood nutrients from fresh fruit and vegetables.

The skin's make-up
The skin is the body"s largest organ, consisting of the outer epidermis and the inner dermis. Skins cells in the epidermis go through a constant cycle over approximately one month, dividing to make new cells. Newer cells get pushed towards the surface of the skin where they eventually flake off, continuously being replaced with new cells. The principal function of the epidermis is to act as a protective barrier against environmental aggressors.

The dermis consists of strong collagen and a network of elastic fibres. This layer is filled with hair follicles, sweat and oil glands. The oil glands produce sebum (composed of lipids, or fats, and cell fragments) which acts as a lubricant to keep the skin soft and prevents hair from becoming brittle.
Beneath the skin is a fatty layer of loose connective tissue called the hypodermis, acting as glue to loosely attach the skin to the tissue beneath. As the skin ages, the number of collagen and elastic fibres in the dermis decreases and the fat in the hypodermis beneath the skin gradually declines. As a result, the skin becomes less elastic and begins to sag and wrinkle.

The importance of nutrition
Omega-3 fatty acids (most commonly derived from fish oil) have become relatively scarce in many modern diets but they are fundamental to health and wellbeing, supporting the cardiovascular system, stabilising mood and oiling the joints. Together with GLA, several unique health-giving properties make Vegepa essential for those seeking to achieve younger looking skin, from the inside out.

1. Cell structure
EPA and GLA provide essential nourishment for maintaining the correct structure of every cell membrane in the body. Crucial for strengthening skin cell membranes, these fatty acids ensure that the membranes are sufficiently permeable for optimum nutrient absorption.

2. Collagen promotion
Studies suggest that EPA may benefit the skin by protecting against UV-induced skin damage - the skin"s biggest enemy. EPA also promotes the production of collagen and elastic fibres in the dermis to actively combat skin wrinkling and sagging.

3. Free radical damage
A unique component of our patented range of supplements is the family of botanical triterpenes present within the organic virgin evening primrose oil. These phytonutrients help protect against the oxidative cell damage which results from the harm caused by free radicals, crucial for countering the effects of ageing.

4. Improving oxygen flow
Renowned for its heart health benefits, EPA is converted into prostaglandins which inhibit platelet aggregation, or blood clotting. The result is a blood-thinning effect, which boosts circulation and transports more oxygen to the skin, where it nourishes and detoxifies, to rejuvenate the surface layer.

5. Countering inflammation
Whilst inflammation is a fundamental part of the body's healing process at the cellular level, over-stimulation can wreak havoc on our skin. Not only is chronic inflammation ageing, but it is also a prime symptom of skin disorders such as eczema and psoriasis. Inflammation in the skin is very visible; it can cause redness, puffiness, uneven and blotchy skin tone, sagging, fine lines, wrinkles and even enlarged pores.

Both EPA and DGLA (from GLA) produce prostaglandins which actively combat the inflammatory process and help to reverse the damage caused by chronic inflammation.

Changing your diet
Whilst we need both omega-3s and omega-6s in our diets because they are not produced naturally by the body, according to scientists it is absolutely vital to have the correct balance; a significant excess of one type over the other can have a detrimental impact upon health. Changes in food processing methods, diet and lifestyle over the past century have dramatically decreased our intake of omega-3, and increased our intake of short-chain omega-6 (mainly in the form of vegetable oils). Further inhibiting factors include smoking, caffeine, alcohol and stress - all of which inhibit fatty acid metabolism.

Modern eating habits, however, can lead to an imbalance of dietary fatty acids, with significant repercussions for health. The body is unable to produce these good fats in sufficient quantities, so they must be sourced from the diet. Too many short-chain omega-6 fatty acids in the diet (in the form of vegetable oils), may result in an excessive production of pro-inflammatory eicosanoids and cytokines - substances which cause inflammation. EPA actively inhibits the production of these inflammatory substances by competing with the omega-6s for those enzymes responsible for the production of anti-inflammatory eicosanoids - substances which relieve the inflammation symptomatic of many skin conditions

By providing the EPA without DHA (another omega-3 fatty acid), omega product is more bioavailable in the body. Crucial for countering the inflammatory products derived from the short-chain omega-6 vegetable oils, which are so prevalent in the modern diet, eicosanoids (important anti-inflammatory by-products of EPA) compete with DHA for desaturase enzymes. By supplementing the diet with pure EPA, the body is able to convert the EPA into DHA as and when the body needs it, without interfering with the healthy production of the anti-inflammatory eicosanoids.

Suggested foods to limit in the diet include:
- hydrogenated fats and margarines which can encourage inflammation
- refined carbohydrates
- sugary or salty foods
Of course, drinking lots of water to hydrate the skin and eliminate toxins, as well as ensuring you get enough sleep (to avoid stress) are also crucial for healthy, glowing skin.

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