What are the symptoms of omega-3 deficiency?

What are the symptoms of omega-3 deficiency?

In the world of nutrition, few substances hold as much importance as omega-3 fatty acids. These essential fats play a crucial role in our bodies, ranging from heart health to brain health. However, many of us unknowingly fall short of our omega-3 needs, leading to potential health issues. Let’s delve into the world of omega-3 deficiency, exploring its symptoms, sources, and strategies for improvement.

Types of omega-3

Omega-3 fatty acids come in different forms. The main ones include eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), and alpha-linolenic acid (ALA)¹. While EPA and DHA are mostly found in fatty fish like salmon and mackerel, ALA can be found in plant-based sources such as flaxseeds and walnuts.

Symptoms of deficiency

A deficiency in omega-3 fatty acids can lead to various symptoms, including dry skin, brittle hair, joint pain, fatigue, and mood swings². Not getting enough can also up our chances of heart problems and other health issues.

Genetic factors

Our genes can affect how well we use omega-3s from food. Some people might not convert ALA into EPA and DHA as effectively, leaving them short on these important fats. Understanding these genetic factors can help tailor dietary approaches to address omega-3 deficiencies more efficiently³. One way you can explore your genetic risk is through MyHealthChecked’s Vitamins & Minerals DNA Test. This at-home test will provide you with insights into any genes that you carry associated with deficiencies in key nutrients. You will also receive nutrition recommendations specific to you from our team of healthcare professionals.

Dietary sources

Fortunately, many foods can provide us a good base of omega-3 fatty acids to support optimal health. Fatty fish like sardines, trout, and herring are rich sources of EPA and DHA, while ALA can be obtained from flaxseeds, chia seeds, and hemp seeds⁴. By including these omega-3-rich foods into your diet, you can help bridge the nutritional gap and promote overall wellbeing.


If you're not getting enough omega-3s from food, supplements can give you a boost. Fish oil supplements, in particular, provide concentrated doses of EPA and DHA, making them a popular choice for individuals seeking to enhance their omega-3 levels⁵. But it's always a good idea to talk to your doctor first.

In summary

Omega-3s are super important for keeping us healthy, but many of us aren't getting enough. By recognising the signs of low omega-3 levels, knowing where to find them in food, and considering supplements if needed, we can make sure our bodies have what they need to thrive.


  1. National Institutes of Health. (2022). Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Fact Sheet for Health Professionals. Retrieved from https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Omega3FattyAcids-HealthProfessional/
  2. Linus Pauling Institute. (2023). Essential Fatty Acids. Retrieved from https://lpi.oregonstate.edu/mic/other-nutrients/essential-fatty-acids
  3. Koletzko, B., Decsi, T., Demmelmair, H., & López-Sabater, M. C. (2007). Genetic variation of fatty acid metabolism in human. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 61(1), 94–97.
  4. Kris-Etherton, P. M., & Fleming, J. A. (2015). Emerging Nutrition Science on Fatty Acids and Cardiovascular Disease: Nutritionists’ Perspectives. Advances in Nutrition, 6(3), 326S–337S.
  5. Gioxari, A., & Kaliora, A. C. (2018). Fish consumption, omega-3 fatty acids and cardiovascular disease. The role of n-3 fatty acids in human health (pp. 77–92). IntechOpen.