Your tissues rely on structural proteins to help support your cells and maintain the structure of the tissues. Collagen and elastin are two such structural proteins, found in several tissues throughout your body. Maintaining healthy levels of collagen and elastin allows for tissue strength and resiliency, helping to prevent tissue damage and disease. Consuming fish oil -- an oil rich in vitamin A and omega-3 fatty acids -- can have a beneficial effect on collagen and elastin in your body.
One way fish oil can help preserve collagen and elastin is through its anti-inflammatory properties. Inflammation can have an effect on tissue growth, with chronic inflammation eventually leading to tissue damage. Continued exposure to inflammation can degrade the collagen and elastin in your tissues, leading to decreased tissue elasticity and strength over time. This collagen and elastin degradation can prove important in the development of cardiovascular disease: chronic inflammation can weaken your blood vessels and heart, increasing your risk of blood vessel rupture, heart failure or stroke.
Vitamin A and Collagen
Fish oil can have a positive effect on your skin's collagen content due to its vitamin A content. The ability to produce new collagen within your skin helps to maintain healthy and elastic skin tissue, and also allows your body to generate new tissue to heal wounds. Vitamin A can promote the formation of new collagen fibers within your skin, according to the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. As a result, consuming fish oil -- a rich source of vitamin A -- can help promote proper collagen production in your skin, helping your skin remain strong and promoting proper skin healing after injury.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids and Collagen
The omega-3 fatty acids present in fish oil can also have an effect on collagen function. Collagen plays a key role in the formation of blood clots, stimulating the platelet aggregation required for blood clot formation. While your body relies on clotting to stop bleeding after injury, spontaneous clot formation can disrupt blood flow, causing a heart attack or stroke. Consuming omega-3 fatty acids can alter your platelet's response to collagen, potentially reducing your risk of developing abnormal blood clots, according to a study published in "Prostaglandins, Leukotrienes and Essential Fatty Acids" in March 2009.
Fish oil might also help preserve collagen and elastin in your skin due to its antioxidant properties. The vitamin A in fish oil functions as an antioxidant by stopping cellular damage due to free radicals. Left alone, free radicals damage your DNA, cellular membranes and proteins -- including collagen and elastin. As a result, free radical damage can gradually reduce the amount of functional collagen and elastin within your tissues, increasing your risk of tissue damage. The vitamin A in fish oil can help prevent extensive free radical damage to your tissues, helping to maintain healthy levels of collagen and elastin.
- University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center; Wound Healing; D.J. Verret, M.D.
- "Prostaglandins, Leukotrienes and Essential Fatty Acids"; Omega-3 Fatty Acids Modulate Collagen Signaling In Human Platelets; M.K. Larson, et al.; March 2011
- Cornell Center for Materials Research; Unrepaired Skin Molecules Cause Wrinkles As We Age; Mark Witmer, Ph.D.; October 2006