BACKGROUND: Intake of long-chain n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFAs) supplementation has been reported to be associated with reduced UVB-erythemal sensitivity, but their relationship to photoaging has not been studied to date.

OBJECTIVE: To investigate associations between daily n-3 PUFA intake and the severity of skin photoaging.

METHODS: A cross-sectional study was conducted on 2919 subjects aged 45-60 years from the SU.VI.MAX cohort. At baseline, trained investigators graded the severity of facial skin photoaging using a validated 6-grade scale during a clinical examination. Intake of α-linolenic (ALA), eicosapentaenoic (EPA), docosapentaenoic (DPA), and docosahexaenoic acids (DHA) were evaluated by dietary source using ten 24-h dietary record questionnaires during the first 2.5 years of the follow-up period.

RESULTS: After adjustment for possible confounders, severe photoaging was found to be inversely associated with higher intake of ALA in men and with higher intake of EPA in women. When considering the different food sources of ALA for men, an inverse association appeared between severe photoaging and ALA from vegetable oils, as well as with ALA from fruit and vegetables, whereas no association was observed for ALA from dairy products. In women, ALA from vegetable oils also tended to be inversely linked to photoaging.

CONCLUSIONS: These findings suggest a possible benefit effect of n-3 PUFAs on skin aging. Nonetheless, further epidemiological studies are necessary to confirm our results and to gain additional insights into underlying mechanisms.