Unsaturated fatty acids are notoriously healthy, but is an omega-3 deficiency really as bad as everyone says? The answer is simple: If you have too little omega-3 in your body, you have a problem.
The reason for this is also easily explained, because your organism needs the fatty acids for the normal function of numerous processes. In addition, we cannot produce one of the most important omega-3 fatty acids in the body: alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). It is essential and must be absorbed through the diet.
So an omega-3 deficiency can become a serious problem. You can find out how you can recognize him and what you can do to tell him how to fight.
How do I notice an omega-3 deficiency?
Because omega-3 fatty acids are so important to your body, a deficiency can manifest itself in many different ways. Problematic:
- Some other symptoms also share symptoms with an omega-3 deficiency
- If you have too little omega-3 in your body, initial consequences, such as elevated cholesterol levels, are hardly noticeable
The diagnosis of “omega-3 deficiency” is therefore not so easy to diagnose. So you only get certainty from your doctor. Nevertheless, there are a few signs that suggest a permanent lack of valuable fatty acids. Especially when several of them occur together, it is often because you take too few omega-3 fatty acids.
So pay particular attention to these 5 common symptoms of omega-3 deficiency:
- Frequent exhaustion and lack of concentration
Does your energy level fall into the basement several times a day and you have trouble focusing fully on something? Then you could suffer from an omega-3 deficiency.
The fatty acids are especially important for your brain. If you don’t have enough of it, your grey cells work slower. An omega-3-rich diet can counteract this.
- Reduction of vision and sensitivity to light
Omega-3 fatty acids are important for maintaining your eye health. Dry eyes, green staror or similar problems are favored by a lack of omega-3.
- Dry skin and brittle hair or nails
Your body needs omega-3 to keep your cells in the firing line. If the demand cannot be met, this also changes your appearance. The skin no longer looks so healthy and is often dry or scaly. But nails and hair can also suffer and become brittle.
- Joint pain
The important fatty acids omega-3 and omega-6 must be absorbed in the right proportions to each other. This affects your body’s susceptibility to certain inflammations. Joint pain can be an indication that your body has too little anti-inflammatory substances.
A 2014 study by the University of Oxford found that higher levels of omega-3 fatty acid DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), found in fatty fish or algae, can lead to higher sleep. So if you sometimes feel powerless in the morning and don’t get out of bed, this may indicate an omega-3 deficiency.
Special case: Omega-3 deficiency in children – these are the symptoms
We already know that omega-3 fatty acids are an important part of a balanced and healthy diet. Especially in children, however, a lack of it can become even more problematic.
But why is this so?
Essential fatty acids are important not only for the maintenance of our bodily functions, but also for their healthy development. If children receive too few omega-3 fatty acids, this can also manifest itself in disorders in development, in addition to the symptoms described above.
Special note should be made here:
- Growth disorders
- A propensity for allergies or asthma
In addition, omega-3 is also important for brain functions. Concentration and attention,but also psychological and emotional stability suffer from a deficiency.
This is particularly problematic as children are usually not paying so much attention to a healthy and balanced diet. So it is particularly important here that fish actually ends up on the plate at least twice a week. Alternatively, nuts or omega-3-containing oils are suitable for preparing food.
If the adolescent gourmets refuse the fish, dietary supplements can also be a way to guarantee sufficient intake. Since too much omega-3 can have negative side effects again, you should definitely discuss this with your doctor to find the right dosage.
Safe is safe: The Omega-3 deficiency test
Since the symptoms of an omega-3 deficiency can also indicate other nutrient deficiencies, it is often not easy to determine. You only get certainty through a blood test. If necessary, you can have it done by the doctor.
However, there are also providers through which you can order a test kit. You will receive it by package, send in the sample and then, after a short wait, you will receive your result.
Since such tests are only medically necessary in exceptional cases, reimbursement by the health insurance company is usually not possible. So you usually have to reach into your pocket for this. Depending on the test, the costs range from 50 to 100 euros.
How to avoid the lack of omega-3 fatty acids
As you can see, a lack of omega-3 fatty acids is not fun. Especially in our modern diet there is often a strong imbalance in omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.
After all, flaxseeds, algae or fatty fish rarely end up on our plates. Medical professionals recommend a ratio of at least 5:1 (omega-6: omega-3)when intake. The closer the shares are to each other, the better.
So the key to avoiding a lack of omega-3 fatty acids is a balanced diet. And yes: eating fish several times a week is really as healthy as everyone says.
You suffer from an omega-3 deficiency? How you balance it
Now again summarized. Do you suspect you are suffering from an omega-3 deficiency? Then pay particular attention to health:
- your skin, hair and nails
- of your joints
- of your brain
Especially if several problems occur in parallel, you can try to compensate them by increasing the intake of Omega-3. A visit to the doctor usually provides certainty.
Once a deficiency is detected, dietary supplements are one way to combat it. They guarantee a sufficient supply of the essential substances and do not require a complicated change over your diet.
When should you take Omega-3?
Dietary supplements containing omega-3 fatty acids, such as capsules containing fish or algae oil, only have their full effect if you take them with a fatty meal. So breakfast is not necessarily the best way to do it. Try it with a take for dinner.
This has several positive effects, because Omega-3 can also improve the quality of your sleep. Note, however, that a greasy meal just before bed disturbs your night’s sleep. The right balance is therefore also crucial in time.