Common symptoms of omega-3 deficiency, plus the healthy fats you should be eating.
By Amy Morris
Omega-3 fatty acids are healthy fats we get through our diet that come with a number of essential health benefits for the mind and body.
If you don’t get enough of these key fatty acids in your diet, it can lead to various health concerns including poor sleep, dry skin conditions, and even an increased risk of heart disease.
Don’t panic! In most cases, deficiencies can easily be rectified by making simple changes to your diet and lifestyle. Nutritionist Amy Morris from Water for Health shares the seven most common signs that you may be lacking in omega-3:
- Dry skin
One of the secrets to youthful and hydrated skin is omega-3 fats, which can be found naturally in the cell wall structure. But the more deficient you are, the drier your skin will be. Omega-3 also helps the skin to absorb healthy nutrients and expel waste products that are harmful, resulting in healthy looking, glowing skin.
- Lifeless hair
The same omega-3s found in the cells of your skin can also be found in hair follicles, making it an important nutrient for lustrous, glossy hair. Omega-3 fats nourish the hair, support hair thickening and also reduce scalp inflammation that can lead to hair loss.
If you are vegetarian or vegan and think you might be deficient in omega-3, eat plenty of nuts and seeds, vegetable oils, beans, soy products and leafy green vegetables, and consider taking an omega-3 supplement.
- Brittle nails
Soft, peeling and brittle nails are all outward signs something in your body isn’t right. It could be an omega-3 deficiency. Many studies have shown that omega-3s from animal sources, such as fish oils are easier for the body to absorb versus plant based ones, so incorporate oily fish into your diet if you can.
A study from the University of Oxford found that people with higher levels of omega-3 experienced better quality sleep. However, I always advise people to take omega-3 supplements in the morning, and not at night, as they can keep you awake if taken too close to bedtime!
- Poor concentration
If you don’t eat a lot of oily fish, or take omega-3 supplements, there’s good chance you may experience poor concentration. Many people have experienced significant improvements in their concentration by simply ensuring they get a daily dose of omega-3. I’d advise taking a high quality omega-3 supplement such as Active Mind which combines omega-3 with vitamin B.
Regular fatigue can have many causes, but there is no doubt that a deficiency in omega-3 could be one of them. According to the University of Maryland Medical Centre, fatigue is a common symptom of an underlying omega-3 deficiency, and so boosting your diet with fatty oils could help to increase your energy levels.
- Joint pain
Omega-3 fatty acids derived from fish oils are powerful anti-inflammatory agents – this is what makes them so important for people living with joint pain. Making sure you get enough omega-3 might stop the process that destroys tissues and joints, which causes the initial inflammation.