If you love eating fish, you’ll be pleased to know that you can reap the many benefits of essential fatty acids called omega-3 fatty acids. Fish like salmon, tuna, and halibut and plant-based sources like walnuts, chia seeds, soybeans, and tofu are ideal for increasing their intake. Omega-3 fatty acids are crucial for brain function, growth, and development. They also reduce inflammation and are said to help lower the risk of chronic illnesses like heart disease, arthritis, and cancer.
These functions make omega-3 fatty acids an extremely crucial part of your diet as their deficiency can result in long-term health problems. Wondering how you can identify if you have the deficiency? Here are 5 signs that are good indications of less omega-3 fatty acids in your body.
5 Signs Of An Omega-3 Fatty Acid Deficiency
1. Excessively Dry Skin, Hairfall, And Brittle Nails
Omega-3 fatty acids are present in the cell membranes of your skin and hair follicles. They absorb nutrients and eliminate waste products from your tissues, keeping them healthy. If you start developing a deficiency, this function is hampered, causing your skin to become excessively dry and your hair to start shedding.1 Your nails may also become brittle and start breaking off.
2. Increased Fatigue And Pain
Some cytokines (secreted proteins released by your cells) are meant to cause inflammation in the body. Excessive inflammation caused by these cytokines may result in pain and fatigue. Omega-3 fatty acids reduce this inflammation and hence reduce the pain and fatigue. However, if you have low levels of omega-3 fatty acids, your body may show signs of increased inflammation, pain, and fatigue. This may be an indicator of an omega-3 fatty acid deficiency.
3. Lower Cognitive Function
Research suggests that those with a higher omega-3 fatty acid intake are more likely to have a better memory and are able to learn and concentrate better than those with a lower intake.2 This is because omega-3 fatty acids are important for normal neuron functioning and hence cognitive brain functions such as memory, learning, and concentration. If you’ve started experiencing trouble remembering things or concentrating, you may be deficient in omega-3 fatty acids.
4. Poor Vision
Omega-3 fatty acids have been found to play an important role in eye health. They prevent abnormal blood vessel growth in the retina, which prevents clear vision and is often seen in progressive eye conditions such as macular degeneration.3 So, deficiency in these fatty acids is likely to result in poor vision and worsened eye conditions.
5. Disrupted Mental Health
Many studies have shown a link between omega-3 fatty acids and mental health. Their dietary deficiency can increase the risk of mental conditions like attention deficit disorder, dyslexia, depression, and bipolar disorder. This is because a lack of omega-3 fatty acids can increase the damage to neurons in the brain caused by free radicals, resulting in hampered brain health. An omega-3 fatty acid deficiency is also likely to cause an increase in mood swings.4
Watch out for these signs to know if you have an omega-3 fatty acid deficiency. This can be made up for by including foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids in your diet or increasing their intake. However, if you continue to experience the signs, see your doctor at the earliest.
|↑1||Omega-3 fatty acids. University of Maryland Medical Center.|
|↑2||Stevens, Laura J., Sydney S. Zentall, Marcey L. Abate, Thomas Kuczek, and John R. Burges. “Omega-3 fatty acids in boys with behavior, learning, and health problems.” Physiology & Behavior 59, no. 4 (1996): 915-920.|
|↑3||Researchers Learn How Certain Omega-3 Fatty Acids May Halt Vision-Robbing Blood Vessel Growth in the Retina. National Eye Institute.|
|↑4||Parker, Gordon, Neville A. Gibson, Heather Brotchie, Gabriella Heruc, Anne-Marie Rees, and Dusan Hadzi-Pavlovic. “Omega-3 fatty acids and mood disorders.” American Journal of Psychiatry 163, no. 6 (2006): 969-978.|