Omega-3 deficiency: Around 99% of people miss ‘essential’ nutrient for brain – symptoms

What is omega 3 and why do we need it?

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Like with most nutrients, your body doesn’t produce omega-3 organically. That’s why the majority of people have to get their daily dose through a healthy and varied diet. However, as our dietary habits change and fads turn to a way of life, some might become deficient as a result.

Your body needs certain nutrients and vitamins to work properly and survive. And omega-3 is no different

For example, keeping your levels of omega-3 fats up might help to ease your mood problems and improve your mental health.

What’s more, this fatty nutrient is also associated with positive effects on your brain as you age.

However, research from Thriva shows that 99 percent of their users are lacking this nutrient.

The health portal reports that the ratio of omega-3s to omega-6s isn’t where it should be due to the popularity of modern Western diet.

This diet leaves its followers getting around 10 times more omega-6s compared to the other fatty acid.

Aisling Moran, the nutritional scientist at Thriva, said: “Omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids are essential for your health but it’s important to get the balance right. 

“Ideally, your omega-6 to omega-3 (AA:EPA) ratio should be 2:1.”

The reason why it’s important to get the balance just right is because of inflammation levels.

She continued: “While omega-3 fats reduce inflammation in your body, omega-6 fats promote it. 

“Inflammation is an essential part of your immune response. 

“But long-term, low-grade (chronic) inflammation can put you at risk of things like heart disease, cancer, arthritis, and diabetes.”

What are the symptoms of omega-3 deficiency?

According to Holland & Barrett, symptoms include:

  • Dry skin, hair and nails
  • Insomnia
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Stiff joints
  • Fatigue.

How to get more omega-3s in your diet

The nutritional scientist shares swapping your cooking oil could be one of the “easiest” ways to improve your omega-6 and omega-3 ratio.

“Try increasing the amount of olive, avocado and flaxseed oil you are using as these are higher in omega-3s,” she noted.

Another way to top up your levels could be introducing more fatty fish into your diet.

Moran said: “National guidelines recommend eating two portions of fish a week, one portion to be oily. 

“DHA and EPA [specific types of omega-3] are most abundant in cold-water oily fish like salmon, mackerel, anchovies, sardines, herring, pilchards, and trout.”

However, if you’re vegan or vegetarian, you might need to opt for omega-3 supplements.

The expert added: “There are plant sources of omega-3s, like flaxseed, chia seeds, and walnuts, but your body finds it harder to use this type of omega-3.

“Keep in mind that taking an omega-3 supplement to reduce your risk of heart disease probably doesn’t have any benefit, though they can help reduce some types of blood fat if they are raised.”

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