Skin Health : Vegetable Oil

WHAT ARE VEGETABLE OILS?

Vegetable oils are fascinating.

Nowadays they are produced and used all over the world, but they have been very much a part of Life for nearly tens of thousands of years.

Evidences of their presence have been found as late as around 6000 years BC. But it seems Vegetable oils production and uses are possibly even more ancient.

Why are Vegetable oils so important for Human beings?

Used in religious or sacred rites, but also in the kitchen, for cosmetic purposes and sometimes even as motor fuel, vegetable oils are all around us.

At this stage, it’s good to know that oils, basically: fatty substances, are also within us, inside our bodies. Our cell membranes for instance are made up of 60% of fat.

A cell membrane is a cell’s envelope. Our bodies are made of billions of cells that are classified into different types: there are blood cells, muscle cells, the skin cells, among many others.

A cell membrane is one that ‘brings the nutrients in (the cell) and ex++cretes the waste. It also plays a role in the sending and receiving of chemical and electrical messages.’[1]

Thus, cell membranes are crucial in allowing our bodies to work properly: keeping them in great condition is essential.

Ingesting organic raw vegetable oils (always under the supervision of a specialist as some vegetable oils cannot be taken orally) or applying them on the skin will definitely help to give our body the good fats needed.

[1] Doctissimo (a French language website about Health), https://www.doctissimo.fr/sante/dictionnaire-medical/membrane-plasmique, consulted on 23rd June 2022.

How Vegetable Oils Work With Our Body

Our cells are built with the ingredients, we can say with the molecules, provided by the food we eat.

We have eaten plants for tens of thousands of years. With this long diet history, if we give these natural molecules to our body and to our skin, our bodies then spontaneously recognise them and know how to use them and how to benefit from them. It’s like seeing an old friend: we know how to interact in a great way with such a person.
This is how Vegetable oils interact with our cells: by offering them the plant active compounds from where they have been ‘extracted’. And our body’s cells will receive these gifts as they innately ‘know’ these vegetable compounds.

Where Are The Vegetable Oils From?

Vegetable oils are natural substances obtained from oilseeds plants.

Vegetable oils are collected from the fruit pulp (avocadoes, olive, etc.), the nuts (almond, grapeseed, etc.) and/or the bark of the oilseeds’ plant; sometimes oils can come from three different places of the same plant (Sea buckthorn vegetable oil for instance).

Nowadays, several kinds of vegetable oils are obtained by a mechanical pressing process.

‘The virgin oils (…) sold at that stage, coming straight out of the press (…), are rich (in nutrients), thick, colourful, …’[1]

This is because, during the mechanical pressing process, several molecules found in different parts of the plant e.g., nuts, fruits pulp and/or bark leave the pressed parts by following the fatty acids of the ‘vegetable oil to be’. For instance, some vitamins (like A, D, E and K vitamins) will be found in the final version of this vegetable oil.

These molecules belong to the plant’s active compound and they enrich the vegetable oil with properties that can be used both by ingestion (when possible) and/or by applying to the skin.

The obtention’s process is very different ‘in the industrial system, (where) the vegetable oils undergo a refining scheme that transforms them (…) into a standardized composition.’[2]

The refined process is then made through chemical solvent extraction. The solvent’s name is hexane. Afterwards, soda ash is used to get rid of the vegetable oil oxidants. In the end, among other steps, the oils are decolourized and deodorized.

At the end of the day, all these industrial vegetable oils have ‘the same smell, the same colour’, and the same taste[3] as the vast majority of their active molecules have been removed during all the previous chemical steps.

[1] Michel POBEDA, Les bienfaits des huiles végétales : apprendre à les connaitre et à les utiliser pour votre santé et pour votre beauté, Hachette Livres (Marabout), Spain, 2011, 318p.

[2] Ibid

[3] Ibid

All the vegetable oils without the ‘virgin oil’ or ‘extracted by cold pression’ mentions, belong to the industrial oils category.

Vitality Center takes great care in the choice of the Vegetable oils used for the patients. Most of our oils are organic, virgin and from cold pressed extraction.

It’s important to know that other oily components are also called vegetable oils even though they are obtained from a non-pressing process. They have usually been obtained through a maceration process, by enfleurage technique or by alcohol dilution way. Some of these processes give organic ‘vegetable oil’ with interesting properties. Another upcoming article will detail this theme.

What are the Vegetable oils active compounds?

Vegetable oils are on average composed as follows:

  • 98% of triglycerides, which themselves contains glycerine and fatty acids;
  • 1% of unsaponifiable[1].

Fatty acids and unsaponifiable represent the molecules that define a Vegetable oil’s “powers”.

Fatty acids are classified in families, knowing that the most widespread in the Vegetable oils world are Omega 3 (Ω3), Omega 6 (Ω6) and Omega 9 (Ω9).

While unsaponifiable can be composed of several kinds of liposoluble[2] elements like Vitamins, polyphenols, minerals (zinc, iron, …), etc.

Please find below some properties, about a few elements, for the skin and by ingestion
FATTY ACIDS

UNSAPONIFIABLES

Ω3:  soothing properties for the skin; takes part in the cardiovascular
system’s good functioning[3]; etc.
Ω6:  nourish the skin; plays a role in the blood coagulation process[4]; etc.
Ω9:  contributes to skin hydration; offers protection against cardiovascular disease; etc.
A Vitamin: maintains the collagen;
prevents the cornea dryness;
etc.
Phytosterols: skin anti-ageing properties; reduce cardiovascular risk; etc.
Polyphenols: skin antioxidant properties; help to maintain a balanced
glycaemia; etc.

Thanks to their active compounds, Vegetable oils help the good functioning of the Human body and its organs, including the skin that most vegetable oils have the property to protect.

[1] Simply said, this is the part of vegetable oil that cannot be transformed into soap.

[2] ‘This is what is dissolved in fats’, from www.larousse.fr, consulted on 12 July 2022.

[3] Michel FAUCON, Traité d’Aromathérapie scientifique et médicales : les Huiles essentielles, fondements et aide à la prescription’, Editions Sang de la Terre, Paris, 2019, 989p.

[4] Ibid

Practical case with the Coconut oil description

Obtained from the coconut tree, a large palm tree with a smooth trunk’[1] found in Africa and Asia, the coconut oil (Latin name: Cocos Nucifera) is collected during the cold pressing of coconut white flesh.

This tropical oil with its beautiful smell is composed of:

Several kinds of Fatty acids:

4% of Ω3 (soothing properties for the skin; ingesting will help in the good functioning of the cardiovascular system; etc.);

– 1 % of Ω7 (Ω7 helps cells skin regeneration, and eases the skin repair process) and Ω9 (contribute to the skin hydration; by ingestion: offers protection against cardiovascular disease; etc.);

– 95% of saturated fatty acids like lauric acid (49%) which possess anti-microbial properties;

And unsaponifiable like:

E vitamin (that maintains the skin hydration and elasticity, and slows the cutaneous cells ageing process);

ferulic acid (free radicals’ neutralisation, knowing that they are responsible for the skin ageing process),

catechins (anti-oxidant),

caffeic acid (which has anti-oxidant et anti-inflammatory virtues);
-etc.

Thus, thanks to its natural and rich composition, organic Coconut vegetable oil applied to the skin is regenerative (Ω7) and protects the skin’s hydration (E Vitamin). It’s also a soothing, anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory oil (ferulic acid, catechins and caffeic acid properties).

By ingestion, organic Coconut oil has beneficial nutritional properties. With 65% of medium chain saturated fatty acids, this oil is a tremendous source of energy.[2]
That’s why Coconut oil is very sought after by athletes or active people.

Nevertheless, due to its high level of saturated fatty acids (…) which are considered ‘bad fats’, it is best to eat Coconut oil in a balanced manner and to vary the diet with other kinds of oils. It is known that the excessive intake of saturated fatty acids tends to favour bad cholesterol synthesis, thereby increasing the risk to develop cardiovascular disease.’[3]

[1] Paul-H MENSIER, Dictionnaire des Huiles végétales, Editions Paul Lechevalier, Paris, 1957, pp 174.

[2] La compagnie des Sens,  https://www.compagnie-des-sens.fr/huile-vegetale-coco/, consulted on 24th June 2022.

[3] Ibid

Et voilà! We will stop there for today.

Before ingesting any vegetable oils (except the usual ones used in the kitchen like Olive oil, Rapeseed oil, etc.), always consult a specialist and read meticulously the labels on their bottles (some Vegetable oils cannot be ingested whether they are dangerous for our internal organs (Neem oil for instance) or they have been subjected to a treatment that makes them applicable on the skin only).

I hope this article has been helpful and has contributed to highlighting what Vegetable oils are and how they work with our bodies.

Stay tuned! Other articles about the vegetable oils’ fabulous properties will follow!

Article written by Sabine Parchowski, Organic Skin Care Therapist at Vitality Center.
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