✓ Evidence Based

Omega 3 Deficiency Symptoms & Signs

Omega-3 fatty acids play a crucial role in maintaining our overall health, including brain function, heart health, and immune system function.

However, despite the importance of omega-3s, many people may not be consuming enough of them in their diet, which can lead to a deficiency.

Omega 3 Deficiency

These fatty acids are important for a wide range of bodily functions, including brain function, heart health, and immune system function. The two main types of omega-3s that the body requires are docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) (1) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) (2).

In this article, we will discuss the signs and symptoms of omega-3 deficiency, which can help you identify if you are lacking in this important nutrient and take steps to improve your intake.

1. Vision problems

Omega-3s are an essential component of the retina in our eyes, and a deficiency can lead to a range of issues that affect our vision.

The retina is responsible for converting light into signals that the brain can interpret, and omega-3s play a crucial role in supporting this process.

A lack of omega-3s may lead to dry eye syndrome (3), which is characterized by inflammation and irritation of the eye’s surface.

Fortunately, increasing your intake of omega-3s can help improve and protect your vision.

Incorporating foods rich in omega-3s, such as fatty fish, flaxseeds, and walnuts, can help increase your intake of these essential nutrients.

Alternatively, supplements such as fish oil or krill oil can also be effective in boosting your omega-3 levels.

2. Trouble sleeping

Research has shown that low levels of omega-3s in the body can contribute to sleep disturbances such as insomnia (4), difficulty falling asleep, and frequent wake-ups during the night.

This is because omega-3s are involved in regulating the production of the sleep hormone melatonin (5), which helps us to fall asleep and stay asleep.

Furthermore, omega-3s have been found to help reduce inflammation in the body, which can also impact sleep.

Inflammation can lead to discomfort, pain, and other health issues that may interfere with our ability to get a good night’s sleep.

If you are experiencing trouble sleeping, it may be worth considering whether you are getting enough omega-3s in your diet.

Additionally, omega-3 supplements are widely available and can help to boost your intake. By addressing your omega-3 deficiency, you may be able to improve your sleep and overall health.

3. You might add some extra pounds

Although it may not be immediately obvious, research has shown that inadequate levels of omega-3 fatty acids in the body can contribute to weight gain and even obesity.

One reason for this is that omega-3s play a key role in regulating metabolism, which is the process by which our bodies convert food into energy.

When metabolism is sluggish, it can lead to the accumulation of body fat and subsequent weight gain.

Additionally, omega-3s have been found to have an impact on appetite regulation, which can further contribute to weight gain.

Studies have shown that individuals who consume diets high in omega-3s tend to feel fuller for longer periods of time and are less likely to overeat.

This is thought to be due to the role that omega-3s play in promoting the production of hormones that control appetite.

4. Feeling tired all the time

Omega-3 fatty acids play a critical role in energy production in our body’s cells.

When our cells do not have enough omega-3s, they cannot function as efficiently, which can lead to feelings of fatigue and low energy levels.

In addition, omega-3s are also important for maintaining healthy brain function, and a deficiency can lead to symptoms such as brain fog and difficulty concentrating.

This can contribute to feelings of tiredness as well, as the brain requires a lot of energy to function correctly.

It’s important to note that feeling tired all the time is not a definitive indicator of omega-3 deficiency, and it’s essential to talk to a healthcare professional to rule out any other underlying health issues.

However, if you are experiencing fatigue and suspect that you may be deficient in omega-3s, increasing your intake through diet or supplements may help improve your energy levels and overall health.

5. Too much ear wax

Ear wax is a natural substance produced by our bodies to protect the ear canal and keep it clean.

However, when we do not consume enough omega-3s, the consistency of our ear wax can change, becoming thicker and more difficult to remove.

This can lead to a buildup of earwax, which can cause a range of symptoms such as hearing loss, ringing in the ears, and earaches.

Omega-3 fatty acids play a key role in maintaining the health of the skin and mucous membranes (6), including those in the ear canal.

When we do not consume enough omega-3s, the skin and mucous membranes can become dry and inflamed, leading to changes in the consistency of our ear wax.

By increasing our intake of omega-3s, we can improve the health of our skin and mucous membranes, which in turn can help to prevent excessive ear wax buildup.

If you are experiencing symptoms of excessive ear wax buildup, it may be worth considering whether you are consuming enough omega-3s in your diet.

6. Joint problems

Joint problems can be a sign of omega-3 deficiency because these fatty acids are essential components of joint cartilage.

When we don’t consume enough omega-3s, our bodies may have difficulty repairing and maintaining this cartilage, leading to joint pain and inflammation.

Research has shown that consuming omega-3s can help reduce joint pain and stiffness in individuals with rheumatoid arthritis (7)and osteoarthritis (8).

One study found that taking an omega-3 supplement for three months reduced joint pain intensity by 28% in individuals with rheumatoid arthritis.

Moreover, omega-3s can help reduce inflammation throughout the body, including in the joints.

Inflammation is a natural response to injury or infection, but when it becomes chronic, it can lead to tissue damage and contribute to various chronic diseases, including arthritis.

Omega-3s have been shown to help reduce inflammation by blocking the production of inflammatory molecules in the body.

7. Hair might become brittle

Omega-3 fatty acids are essential for maintaining healthy hair, skin, and nails, and a lack of these nutrients can result in dry, brittle, and dull-looking hair.

These fatty acids help to nourish the hair follicles, which are responsible for hair growth, and also play a role in reducing inflammation, which can damage the hair and scalp.

When we don’t get enough omega-3s in our diet, our hair may become dry, frizzy, and prone to breakage.

In some cases, people may even experience hair loss due to omega-3 deficiency. This is because the hair follicles are not receiving the necessary nutrients to support healthy growth.

If you’re experiencing brittle hair or hair loss, it’s important to speak with a healthcare professional to rule out any underlying medical conditions.

8. Dry skin

Dry skin is a common symptom of omega-3 deficiency.

Omega-3 fatty acids are important for maintaining skin health as they help to regulate oil production, improve skin elasticity, and reduce inflammation.

Without adequate omega-3 intake, the skin can become dry, rough, and itchy.

In addition to dryness, omega-3 deficiency can also lead to other skin issues such as eczema, psoriasis, and acne.

Studies have shown that increasing omega-3 intake can improve the symptoms of these conditions and even prevent their development in some cases.

To ensure that you are getting enough omega-3s, it is important to include many sources of this nutrient in your diet.

9. Heart problems

Omega-3 fatty acids are crucial for maintaining a healthy heart. They can help reduce inflammation, lower blood pressure, and reduce the risk of heart disease.

Studies have shown that omega-3s can also help prevent heart attacks and strokes by reducing the buildup of plaque in the arteries.

Therefore, a deficiency in omega-3s can lead to various heart problems. One of the most common signs of omega-3 deficiency is an irregular heartbeat or arrhythmia (9).

This is because omega-3s help regulate the heart’s electrical system and can prevent abnormal heart rhythms.

Additionally, a deficiency in omega-3s can also increase the risk of developing high blood pressure, which is a major risk factor for heart disease.

Omega-3s can help lower blood pressure by reducing inflammation and improving the elasticity of blood vessels.

Other heart-related symptoms of omega-3 deficiency may include chest pain or angina, fatigue, and shortness of breath.

These symptoms may be indicative of a more severe heart problem and should be evaluated by a healthcare provider.

10. Dandruff

Recent studies suggest that dandruff may be linked to a deficiency in omega-3 fatty acids.

Omega-3 fatty acids play a vital role in maintaining skin health by reducing inflammation and improving skin hydration.

When our bodies don’t get enough omega-3s, our skin can become dry, inflamed, and itchy, leading to dandruff and other skin conditions.

Studies have found that increasing omega-3 intake through diet or supplements can help reduce the severity of dandruff symptoms.

If you are experiencing dandruff symptoms, it is important to speak with your healthcare provider to determine the underlying cause and develop a treatment plan.


Recognizing the signs and symptoms of omega-3 deficiency is essential to maintaining optimal health.

If left untreated, omega-3 deficiency can lead to serious health issues, such as cardiovascular disease, cognitive decline, and immune dysfunction (10).

Therefore, it’s important to include sources of omega-3s in your diet, such as fatty fish, nuts, and seeds, or consider taking a supplement if you’re not able to get enough from your diet alone.

By being aware of the signs and symptoms of omega-3 deficiency and taking steps to improve your intake, you can support your overall health and well-being for years to come.