9 Signs You Are Dealing With An Omega-3 Deficiency
The University of Maryland Medical Center1 has the following to say about omega-3 fatty acids: "Research shows that omega-3 fatty acids reduce inflammation and may help lower the risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer, and arthritis. Omega-3 fatty acids are highly concentrated in the brain and appear to be important for cognitive (brain memory and performance) and behavioral function."
The presence of omega-3 fatty acids is very important to both the function and development of the human body. In addition, they provide many other health benefits that make them an important part of our diet.
More than likely, you have seen some of the fish oil supplements at the store and they sell quickly. The reason why that is the case is because there are two different type of omega-3's, EPA and DHA that are found in some types of fish. Another type of omega-3, alpha linolenic acid (ALA) comes from plant sources.
When you are not getting enough of this type of fatty acid in your diet, you may see a number of different symptoms occurring. Some of them are cognitive, including memory loss and depression but others are physical, including arthritis and inflammation. The severity of your symptoms is often directly associated with the degree of deficiency.
You can look for these 10 signs that you may be dealing with an omega-3 deficiency:
1. Depression – Researchers found that a lower rate of depression2 is seen in countries that regularly consume food with omega-3. It may be because omega-3 are concentrated in the brain and help to stabilize the neural activity. In addition, omega-3 fatty acids form an important part of serotonin, which is a mood stabilizer neurotransmitter.
2. Inflammation and Arthritis – Studies have shown that omega-3's help to reduce inflammation. The Institute of Health published a study3 in which 125 people took a regimen of omega-3 fish oil supplements every day. After using those supplements for 75 days, 60% said they had a reduction in joint pain. 80% said they were satisfied with the improvement an 88% continue to take those omega-3 supplements.
3. Weight Gain – Another one of the benefits of taking omega-3 is that it can add to the cellular metabolic activity. If you eat a diet that is deficient in omega-3 fatty acids, you may have a sluggish metabolism and a difficulty maintaining a healthy weight. Taking enough omega-3's as a supplement or in your diet can help to reduce that problem.
4. Heart Disease – The Harvard School Of Public Health was involved in a study4 that showed 40% of those who are dying from heart disease had a high level of LDL cholesterol. Omega-3 fatty acids reduce bad cholesterol in the body and further help to reduce inflammation, lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of blood clotting. A reduction in those three factors works in conjunction to reduce the risk of heart disease.
5. Difficulty Learning – It has been shown that omega-3 fatty acids concentrate in the brain and balance the function of brain cells. When the fatty acids are low, the chemicals that surround the neurons are also low and it inhibits the ability of the neurons to transmit information. This could lead to a difficulty with learning.
6. Unhealthy Skin – The health of cellular membranes in the skin relies on fatty acids. It is that barrier that prevents skin damage while at the same time, allowing the skin to absorb healthy nutrients and expel waste products. When omega-3's are at low levels, it inhibits the entry/exit mechanism of the skin cells.
7. Immune System Functions – The function of the immune system is reliant on the consumption of omega-3 fatty acids. A substance that is similar to a hormone, Eicosanoids, are important for the proper functioning of the immune system, the reduction of pain and preventing blood clots. When you take omega-3, your body produces a building block of that substance, phospholipids. Without omega-3's, your body is more likely to experience illness.
8. Fatigue – When you suffer from chronic fatigue syndrome, you likely have a low level of fatty acids. That is especially true of EPA fatty acids. Certain proteins in the cellular structure cause inflammation and lead to a fatigued feeling but taking enough omega-3 can help to reduce that effect.
9. Eyesight Problems – When you take omega-3 fatty acids, you protect your eye health. Among the many problems possible with the eyes are dry eye syndrome, glaucoma, and macular degeneration. A study in Europe showed that people who regularly ate oily fish reduced their likelihood of developing macular degeneration by 50%.
Where Can You Get Omega-3?
The best sources of omega-3 are fish and fish oil supplements5. The type of fish that contain the highest levels of EPA and DHA omega-3's are mackerel, sardines, and salmon. You can also eat certain plant-based foods, including leafy greens, flaxseed, cabbage, beans, and squash.
References: 1. https://www.umms.org/ummc/patients-visitors/health-library/medical-encyclopedia/images/omega3-fatty-acids, Omega-3 Fatty Acids, August 2, 2011 2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3976923/, Omega-3 Fatty Acids and Depression: Scientific Evidence and Biological Mechanisms, March 18, 2014 3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16531187, Omega-3 fatty acids (fish oil) as an anti-inflammatory: an alternative to nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs for discogenic pain, 2006 Apr;65(4):326-31 4. https://journals.plos.org/plosmedicine/article?id=10.1371/journal.pmed.1000252, Effects on Coronary Heart Disease of Increasing Polyunsaturated Fat in Place of Saturated Fat: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials, March 23, 2010 5. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Omega3FattyAcids-HealthProfessional/, Omega-3 Fatty Acids, June 6, 2018