It's often said that you can have too much of a good thing, and it's true. And we know that there can also be negative consequences when we don't get enough of something as well. This same principle applies to omega-3 fatty acids. Let's start by looking at what happens if you don’t get enough omega-3 into your body. We will then take a look at the consequences for having too much of this essential fatty acid in your system.
What Are Omega-3 and Omega-6
Both omega-3 and omega-6 are essential fats. They're “essential” because the body needs them but it can't synthesize them. This means we have to get them from diet. All the natural foods that contain omega-3 will also contain omega-6. The modern western diet also includes foods (especially processed) that are too high in omega-6 and low in omega-3. These things combined have meant that many of us don't get enough of one (omega-3) and too much of the other (omega-6). There are both short and long term consequences caused by this imbalance.
Symptoms of omega-3 deficiency include:
- Confusion and disorientation
- Depression, gloominess
- Dry, fragile or lifeless head hair
- Dry, crusty, flaky, lackluster or bumpy skin
- Cravings for fatty foods
- Low HDL (good) cholesterol and high triglycerides
- Night blindness
- Soft, splitting or breakable nails
Chronic inflammation is a growing problem today. There are many serious health complaints that can materialize as a result of this latent condition. An ogmega-3/omega-6 imbalance contributes to chronic inflammation.
Too Much Omega-3 Fatty Acids
This is not such a problem nowadays because of the reasons mentioned above. Even so, it's still worth a mention. One of the things omega-3 does is keep the blood from clotting. Too much of it from diet or overly high doses of supplements can potentially cause easy bleeding. Too much Fish oil from supplements can also cause symptoms of belching, nausea and loose stools in some people.