A large portion of the population does not get sufficient quantities of Omega-3 fatty acids. The problem lies in the fact that our bodies can’t synthesize this vital nutrient, so we must get it from our diet, but people are just not eating the right kinds of foods. The ever expanding role of the processed food industry in the western diet typically uses vegetable oils like corn or soy and they contain unnecessarily high amounts of Omega-6 fatty acids but no Omega-3, which leads to the deficiency.
The Omega-6 and Omega-3 fatty acids are both vital to staying healthy, and ideally they must be consumed in a roughly one to one ratio, but even maintaining a four to one ratio is good. This is because both are contenders for the same metabolic pathways in the body and with near equal amounts they get equal opportunity to use the pathways without producing a deficiency in either fatty acid.
Omega-6 deficiency is unlikely considering the typical western diet. However, in the highly unlikely event that someone was deficient in Omega-s, the symptoms would include joint pain, very thin skin and skipped heart beats. Omega-3 deficiency is another story altogether. Each major degenerative condition is in some part linked with Omega-3 deficit.
Omega-3 fatty acids play an important role in regulating the immune and inflammatory pathways of our bodies in addition to regulating the cardiovascular system. A deficiency in Omega-3 is exhibited by perhaps the most symptoms as compared to deficiency of any other nutrient. This alone indicates the importance of Omega-3s to a healthy body. In fact, according to findings of a study by the Centre of Disease Control in America, Omega-3 deficiency is more deadly than over consumption of trans-fats! It holds sixth position among the largest killers of Americans.1
Skin is the first place signs of Omega-3 deficiency can be observed and even the heavy duty moisturizing creams will not eliminate the problems. Some skin related issues include allergies such as eczema, rough patches and dry skin, dandruff, tiny bumps on upper arms, back and legs. Additionally, on occasion fingertips may crack while fingernails may become brittle and even begin to grow more slowly. Additional symptoms include premenstrual breast pain, enhanced menstrual cramps, and fatigue.
Increasing amount of evidence points to Omega-3 deficiency being linked to a variety of psychiatric disorders, including anxiety, depression, and mood swings. According to one study supplements of Omega-3s in patients with diminished Omega-3 levels showed decreases in anxiety and anger scores compared to the placebo group.2