Healthy fats should be an important part of your diet. Although your body cannot make them, fatty acids are especially important for good health. These fats must come from food or supplements. You may wonder if you are getting enough fatty acids in your diet. Could You Have A Fatty Acid Deficiency And Unknowingly? If so, what are the ten hidden signs of fatty acid deficiency?

Fatty acids explained

Fatty acids come from linoleic acid (omega-6) and alpha-linolenic acid (omega-3). You need both types of essential fatty acids to live. There is a general deficiency of fatty acids, especially omega-3. Eating foods rich in omega 3 can help you overcome your deficiency. Here is a list of some of the best omega-3 fatty acids you can eat.

Foods rich in Omega 3

  • Farm Raised Salmon
  • Wild Atlantic salmon
  • Herring
  • Tuna
  • Mackerel
  • Flax seeds
  • Walnuts
  • Chia seeds
  • Spinach
  • Brussels sprouts

How much fatty acid do we need

Supplements can be helpful, but the best way to get enough fatty acids is through food. Most food experts recommend eating fatty fish twice a week or taking around 250 mg of omega-3 supplements every day.

Your omega-3 supplement should contain both EPA and DHA, both important types of omega-3 . Choose only a reputable brand of fish oil to ensure freshness and safe ingredients.

Signs of fatty acid deficiency

If you suffer from a fatty acid deficiency , you may be prone to certain health problems. Increasing your essential fatty acids can improve your health and help treat some diseases, giving you greater mental and physical function.

Some types of depression

Depression can make you feel lethargic and moody. You may feel that there is nothing that makes you happy in your life. If you are battling severe depression, you may even have suicidal thoughts. Doctors believe that certain types of depression may be due to an omega-3 deficiency.

Prescription drugs for depression can be helpful, but the side effects are often especially bothersome. Studies show that omega-3 fatty acids are very helpful in treating certain types of depression. Eating a diet rich in fatty acids such as fish, nuts, and seeds can be helpful.

If you have problems with depression, it may be worth trying to increase omega-3 foods in your diet. If you have negative thoughts about hurting yourself or killing yourself, seek immediate help from a medical professional.

Dry Skin

Lack of fatty acids could be a factor in your dry or flaky skin. Adding omega-3 fatty acids to your eating plan can improve your skin, making it less dry, smooth, and clearer. Although this is rare, some doctors believe that atopic eczema, acne, and even psoriasis may mean that you have problems with fatty acid metabolism. Here are some meal ideas for adding omega-3s to your diet.

  1. Breakfast: Smoothie made with almond milk. You add flax seeds for omega-3 fatty acids and berries for some healthy vitamin C and antioxidants.
  2. Lunch: Grilled salmon and walnuts salad.
  3. Dinner: Tuna steaks with herb sauce, brown rice and roasted Brussels sprouts.

Brittle nails

Fingernails and toenails are a good indicator of your overall health. Soft, peeling nails could also be a sign that your body is lacking in omega-3 fatty acids. Eating a diet rich in protein, especially omega-3 proteins like oily fish, nuts, seeds, and avocado can help remedy nail problems.

Increase bad cholesterol

A menu high in saturated fat can increase your levels of bad cholesterol. Cholesterol that is too high can lead to fatty deposits in the blood vessels. These become so large that they block blood flow through the arteries. This is dangerous and leads to heart problems. To lower your cholesterol, eat unsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. Here is a list of healthy fats like omega-3 fatty acids.

Polyunsaturated fats

  • Fish
  • Soy
  • Flax seeds, chia seeds, pumpkin seeds
  • Walnuts, cashews, almonds
  • Canola oil

Unsaturated fats

  • Avocados
  • olives
  • Peanut butter
  • Sunflower oils


Insomnia is a challenge. Not getting enough sleep at night causes poor performance at work or school. You feel irritable, tired, and drained even before the day begins. Researchers believe that if you have higher levels of omega-3s in your body, you will sleep better. Increasing your fatty acid levels can improve your sleep, or at least your quality of sleep. It is worth trying to eat more omega 3 to get a good night’s sleep.

Reduces the risk of Alzheimer’s disease

A study in Penn State Hershey at the Milton S. Hershey Medical Center found that omega-3 fatty acids accumulate in your brain, helping your memory and function. This is excellent news for those who are at risk for dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. Researchers believe that people who eat less fish are at higher risk for brain disease. Taking omega-3 supplements or a diet rich in marine-derived omega-3 fatty acids can prevent brain health problems.

Heart disease

Too high a quantity of triglycerides builds up plaque on the walls of your arteries, putting you at risk for heart disease. Fatty acids help reduce the risk of high cholesterol and heart disease. Eat a fish that is high in omega-3s, such as salmon, tuna, mackerel, or herring, or take an omega-3 supplement of at least 200 mg a day to reduce your risk of heart disease. Even if you already have heart disease, consuming omega 3 can improve the condition.

Joint pain and swelling

Some researchers say that omega-3 fatty acids extracted from fish oil can help joint inflammation and pain. Studies show that fish oil can help reduce pain and inflammation, or at least reduce the amount of NSAIDs (such as ibuprofen) or corticosteroids to relieve pain.

Some also say that fish oil supplements can reduce joint swelling and pain . Not surprisingly, the findings aren’t entirely clear. More clinical trials are needed to understand the full benefits of omega-3 in joint pain. But if a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids helps you feel better and take less medication for joint pain, then go for it. It’s worth a try.

Poor concentration

If you have difficulty concentrating or cannot concentrate, you may need more omega-3s in your diet. Omega-3s can improve your cognitive functions, such as inattention and quick thinking. Researchers say they need to conduct more clinical trials to fully understand the connection between the brain and omega-3s. So, eat healthy foods rich in omega-3s.


Fatigue can be debilitating. Feeling listless, low on energy, and exhausted all the time could be a sign that you have an omega-3 fatty acid deficiency. Omega-3 fatty acids are known to improve fatigue symptoms and can help people who have been diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome. People who ate a diet rich in omega-3s for 12 weeks saw improvement. That’s good news.

How long does it take to increase fatty acids in the body

If you think you may be deficient in fatty acids, you may wonder how long it may take before you start to feel better. Of course, it depends on how deficient you are, but generally between 6 weeks and 6 months, you should start to see significant changes in how you feel.

Final notes

The old saying, “too much of a good thing is not good,” applies to too much omega 3. Too much omega-3, especially if you take supplements, can cause problems.

Here are some side effects of consuming too much fish oil.

  • Bleeding – Taking too many omega 3 supplements can prevent your blood from clotting properly so you can bleed easily. Taking a fish oil supplement has minor side effects like belching, nausea, and diarrhea.
  • Increase in blood sugar levels.
  • Lowers blood pressure too much: Fish oil can lower blood levels, but taking fish oil can be harmful for people with low blood pressure. Also, fish oil can affect blood pressure medications, so do not take omega-3 supplements if you are taking that medication.
  • Diarrhea: Too much omega-3, especially in supplement form, will give you intestinal problems like diarrhea.

Of course, the best way to get your daily omega-3 fatty acids is through food. Supplements have some benefits, but there are side effects if they are exceeded. Therefore, follow a diet rich in omega 3 to ensure all the great benefits of fatty acids without unwanted side effects.

By Dr. Eric Jackson

Dr. Eric Jackson provides primary Internal Medicine care for men and women and treats patients with bone and mineral diseases, diabetes, heart conditions, and other chronic illnesses.He is a Washington University Bone Health Program physician and is a certified Bone Densitometrist. Dr. Avery is consistently recognized in "The Best Doctors in America" list.

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