Human body cannot produce omega 3 fatty acids (also known as n-3 fatty acids). You need to supply these fatty acids to your body, regularly through your diet; as these are essential for health. These fats play an important role in various bodily functions. They help build strong cell membranes and thus prevent cell damage. They prevent unnecessary blood clotting, growth of cancer cells, inflammation, thickening of the arteries, high cholesterol and triglycerides levels and obesity. Healthy cell membranes help improve the permeability of cells which in turn improves your health in several ways.
Signs of Omega 3 Deficiency
Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) are the three important types of omega 3 fatty acids. As these fatty acids help prevent several health problems, a wide range of symptoms of omega 3 deficiency would be noticed, in case of scarcity of these healthy fats in diet. Such fats are essential for cognitive and behavioral functions of the brain. So scarcity of these fats can lead to symptoms like inability to concentrate, poor memory, mood swings and depression. If women do not consume sufficient fat (healthy) during pregnancy, then the babies may develop vision problems. Nerve problems are also seen in such infants.
Since omega 3 fatty acids help lower bad cholesterol levels and help improve good cholesterol levels, scarcity of these fats in diet can exhibit symptoms related to cardiovascular diseases like abnormal heart rate, problem in blood circulation, tingling sensation in extremities, chest pain, blocked arteries, high blood pressure, etc. Healthy fats help reduce the count of triglycerides in blood.
The deficiency can lead to accumulation of plaque or blood clots in the arteries. So pre-stroke symptoms like sudden severe headache, sudden numbness or weakness in face, arm or leg, difficulty in speaking, etc., can be noticed. As the fats help reduce bad fat in the body, they help maintain weight and shape of the body. Obesity or excess weight can be seen in people who do not include enough omega 3 in diet. Craving for fats can be noticed in persons lacking omega 3 essential acids in body.
As healthy fats help strengthen the cell membranes, deficiency of such fats can lead to dry itchy skin, weak hair and brittle nails. Deficiency of omega 3 can lead to worsening of diabetes symptoms like blurred vision, slow healing of wounds, weak immune system, high blood glucose levels, frequent infections, weight loss, dry mouth, throat and eyes, excessive thirst and hunger, etc. The essential fatty acid deficiency can be noticed in people with arthritis. It exhibits symptoms like severe joint pain, excessive fatigue, morning stiffness in patients of rheumatoid arthritis.
In case of omega 3 deficiency, women may experience severe menstrual cramps during periods, tender breasts before periods and vaginal dryness. Excessive wax in ears, slow growing nails, thickening of calluses, formation of dandruff, irregular bowel movements, dull skin, are some of the commonly noticed omega 3 deficiency symptoms.
Foods Rich in Omega 3 Fatty Acids
Studies have shown that absorption of omega 3 by the body is excellent when foods rich in these fats are included in diet. Though omega 3 supplements contain higher amount of omega 3 than the food sources, the body cannot absorb these fats well. So you need to consume natural foods rich in these healthy fats. The best natural sources of omega 3 fatty acids are salmon, flax seeds and walnuts. Fish like sardines, shrimp, haddock, tuna, flounder, oysters, trout, black cod, lobster, halibut, etc., are loaded with omega 3. Vegetables like spinach, Swiss chard, turnips, kale; mustard and pumpkin seeds; soy beans, green beans; tofu, etc., also contain a good amount of omega 3 fats.
Healthy fats promote heart health and brain health. They offer you glowing skin and shining hair. Omega 3 deficiency symptoms can be lowered by following a healthy diet consisting of lots of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts, seeds, fish and fish oil.