5 Signs and Symptoms of The Omega-3 Deficiency

5 Signs and Symptoms of The Omega-3 Deficiency

What Is Omega-3?

Well, Omega-3 is a certain kind of PUFA (Polyunsaturated Fatty Acid). You might come across some of the necessary omega-3s in various foodstuffs like the EPA (Eicosapentaenoic Acid) and DHA (Docosahexaenoic Acid). You might even get the ALA (Alpha-Linolenic Acid) from the foodstuffs.

When you are suffering from omega-3 deficiency, it means your body lacks the necessary omega-3 fats. That would lead to a huge amount of negative health effects.

Research Related to Proper Usage and Necessity of Omega-3 Fatty Acids

As clearly stated, there are various symptoms and signs of omega-3 fatty acids. To this date, few studies have successfully found out the signs and symptoms of omega-3 deficiencies.

Here most of the studies described below are somewhat similar and based on these research. Also, you must realize that there is not any standard test for diagnosing omega-3 deficiencies in the human body. There are many ways to analyse the omega-3 levels.

For having a better and clear understanding of the factors responsible for the omega-3 deficiency, more research must be done.

Signs and Symptoms of Omega-3 Deficiency

The following are five of the major symptoms of omega-3 deficiency. They are the ones found after extensive research. Let us check them out –

1) Joint Pain and Excessive Stiffness

As you get older, it is common to suffer from joint pain and extreme stiffness. This can be related to the condition called osteoarthritis. In this disease, the cartilage that covers the phone would ultimately break down.

Sometimes this would be related to the inflammatory autoimmune condition called RA (rheumatoid arthritis).

Certain studies show that taking omega-3 supplements can lower one’s joint pain and even increase the grip strength. Even various research shows that you may get help from the PUFA for your osteoarthritis, but more human studies are needed to confirm this.

Additionally, a great amount of research work shows that omega supplements would lower the activity of the disease. This is among people suffering from RA and even helps in improving the symptoms of the disease.

Sometimes you would notice a huge increase in joint pain or any other related arthritic symptoms. Then your omega-3 status would be low and taking some good supplements would be helpful. Now it is necessary to speak with your doctor when you are suffering from a huge amount of joint pain or any other arthritis symptoms. That would assist in determining the required treatment you have to follow.

Ultimately taking a good amount of omega-3 supplements helps to reduce joint pain and even stiffness. Still, scientists and medical professionals must do a good amount of research among humans to know more.

2) Depression

Just think of omega-3 fast as the necessary component for the brain. It helps to have an anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective effect. Also, they would help to handle and cure neurodegenerative diseases and all kinds of brain disorders. For example, you can get rid of dementia, Alzheimer’s, and even bipolar disorder.

Multiple studies display the correlation between the low amount of omega-3 status and even the high amount of incidence of depression. An analysis of around 26 studies was done. These contain 2160 participants that were found to be taking around omega-3 supplements. They had beneficial effects on the depressive symptoms.

For example, an omega-3 supplement that has around 60% EPA and taken along with the dosage of one gram or less each day was greatly helpful. Furthermore, another systematic analysis and review were done on six studies. Among them, around 4,605 participants clearly stated that on average 1.3 grams of omega-3 intake per day would lower mild to moderate depression symptoms. This was among older people compared to the usage of the placebo.

Furthermore, animal studies were conducted. It was found out in them that the lifelong intake of omega-3 fats leads to changes in the neuronal pathways of one’s brain. That leads to depression. Frankly, various factors lead to the development of mental health disorders. A diet high in omega-3 would reduce the risk of certain mental health conditions.

In such a case, just consult your healthcare provider to be screened for depression. Also, you can find out the correct treatment strategies. Various people go through depression and they would have low omega-3 status.

Nowadays, various studies show that consuming supplements of omega-3 can improve one’s mental health symptoms. Frankly, omega-3 fats are necessary for the function of the brain. Hence, you need to take an adequate of it.

3) Changes to Hair

Just like how omega-3 fats allow one to retain the moisture on one’s skin, they also help one to get healthy hair. When there are changes in the integrity, hair texture, and density, that means there is a low omega 3.

A study was conducted for six months on 120 females for omega-3 content. In that, the females were given omega-3 along with the omega-6 fats and antioxidants as the daily supplement. Well at the end of the study, people who had taken the supplement felt less hair loss and their hair density increased compared to other people.

Additionally, a study was conducted on dogs. They were given DHA and EPA and that improved fatty acid content present in their hair and blood. Here the fatty acid composition found was strongly associated with having better hair quality.

Sometimes you would be going through excessive hair loss and even your hair would be feeling dry or thinning and become brittle. Just take an omega-3 supplement. Frankly, omega-3 fats can easily help in maintaining the density, strength, and texture of your hair. When you take omega-3 supplements, that would assist you with hair loss, dryness, and thinning.

4) Skin Dryness and Irritation

When your body lacks omega-3 fats, the first place to notice it would be on your skin. For example, you would see signs of dry skin, sensitive skin, and even an increase in acne. These surely would be the signs of omega-3 deficiency among people.

Frankly, omega-3 fats can improve the integrity of the skin barriers. That would prevent the loss of moisture. Also, it would protect your skin from irritants that might lead to irritation and dryness.

A study was conducted where a group of women was given a daily dosage of 1/2 teaspoon of ALA-filled and rich flaxseed oil for three months. Now the women that tool it felt a decrease in the roughness of their skin and even increased skin hydration to around 40%.

Also, a twenty-week study was done where certain people were given omega-3 rich hemp seed oil on daily basis. These were given to those suffering from atopic dermatitis called eczema. This is a condition that can cause irritated skin and dryness. The participants felt reduced itchiness and dryness and ended up with less topical medication.

Also, some people who are suffering from acute acne compared to normal people would be indirectly suffering from an omega-3 deficiency. Even studies show that omega-3 would reduce inflammation which scientists believe would avoid acne.

Also, even certain research work shows that omega-3 supplements would lower acne breakouts and skin inflammation. Even studies are showing that taking DHA and EPA supplements can reduce the sensitivity of the skin to ultraviolet light.

Ultimately, omega-3 fats are necessary for maintaining optimal skin health. Hence, if you are lacking them in your diet, then you would notice changes in your skin. When you take omega-3 supplements, you can reduce skin-related inflammation, sun sensitivity, and even moisture loss. Well, on the flip side, you can get rid of dryness, increased acne, and redness of the skin.

5) Dry Eyes

Of course, omega-3 fats play a great role in eye health. These even include maintaining eye moisture and even the production of tears. For this reason, various healthcare providers use omega-3 supplements to get rid of dry eye syndrome.

The symptoms would even include eye discomfort and sometimes disturbances in vision. A study was done on 64 adults who were suffering from dry eye effects. They were given omega-3 regularly. Here one group of participants took two daily capsules each having 170mg of EPA and 120 mg of DHA. The other group just took a placebo.

After 30 days of consumption, those people that took the omega-3 supplements felt less tear evaporation. They even had improved dry eye symptoms and more production of tears. Additionally, there was an analysis done of 17 studies that involved 3,363 people. Researchers found out that the consumption of omega-3 supplements reduced the symptoms of dry eye compared to the ones that took a placebo.

In comparison, other studies showed that just by taking omega-3 supplements, there was no difference in the dry eye symptoms compared to the ones that were taking olive oil placebo. Hence, if you are noticing an increase in eye dryness, then it would be a clear sign of the diet that has fewer omega-3 fats.

Of course, many health conditions would lead to dry eye symptoms. You must check with your healthcare provider if you are going through dry eye or any other eye-related symptoms. Now omega-3 fat plays a great role in eye health, and no doubt, it would reduce dry eye symptoms. If you are suffering from unusual eye dryness and irritation, then you would need to increase the omega-3 fat intake.

Confirming Deficiency of Omega-3

Sometimes or you can say commonly it is difficult for healthcare providers to routinely evaluate the omega-3 status of a person. Here there would be no standard test for diagnosing the omega-3 deficiency. There are many ways to find out the omega-3 levels if required.

Firstly, the healthcare service providers would take the sample of the blood and then analyse the levels of the omega-3 present in the blood fat or blood plasma. These are somewhat expressed through the percentage of the whole phospholipid fatty acid through weight.

Additionally, many healthcare providers could assess the status of the omega-3 indirectly by analysing the composition of the fatty acids present in the red blood cells. Sometimes this approach would be based on the long-term dietary intake of the fats through several months. Also, it would provide the whole idea of the omega-3 intake.

It is important to note that the amount of the fatty acid present in the blood would vary a lot based on what you have consumed last and even when. This is the major reason why many healthcare professionals require you to fast overnight just before you give your blood samples for assessing the lipids present in the blood.

Frankly, there are no standard tests for diagnosing omega-3 deficiency. However, a couple of lab tests are used by clinicians for evaluating the blood fat composition.

How Can One improve Omega-3?

Do you know that certain food items like chia seeds and other plant-based food have a good amount of omega-3 fat? Even the fish and other food that are animal-based have EPA and DHA in them.

Additionally, you need to realize that the ALA is the precursor to the EPA and DHA. That would mean your body needs to convert some of them into omega-3 fatty acids. The conversion rate would be exceptionally low. Hence, it would be better if you could focus on getting a good amount of DHA and EPA directly from supplements and diet rather than getting them consumed from ALA.


As you have come across, omega-3 deficiency is a condition where your body will not have the necessary amount of omega-3 fats. That would be from not consuming enough amount of dietary sources of omega-3 over a long period of time.

The best manner for boosting your omega-3 status would be through increasing the amount of that you are getting from your diet. Here you can get them from seafood and fatty fish as they would be abundant in omega-3 fats EPA and DHA.


Saravavan Nadarajan (Vanan)

Vanan, fitness expert and leader at EzFit Singapore, specializes in holistic training—home-based, boot camps, and corporate fitness—with over a decade of industry experience.

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