You’re likely aware of the important role Omega-3 fatty acids play in promoting brain, eye and heart health, but did you know – despite increased popularity – most people still aren’t consuming enough Omega- 3?

Since Omega-3 can’t be produced by our bodies, it needs to be consumed through food (and supplements). Research shows that 90% of the population has an Omega-3 shortage, of which half even a severe shortage.

omega-3_deficiencyEnsure adequate Omega-3 levels by paying special attention to these six signs of potential deficiency:

1. Dry Skin
Fatty acids are vital for the proper functioning of every cell in your body, and that includes your skin. As an important part of skin’s lipid (fat) content, Omega-3 helps bolster skin’s barrier function which, when working properly, acts like a seal that keeps moisture in and irritants out. Since Omega-3 keeps skin cells moist and strong, dry skin and premature wrinkles are some early signs of deficiencies. The more deficient you are, the dryer your skin will be.

2. Poor Concentration
Omega-3 fatty acids represent about 60% of the brain, which is why regular consumption of this essential fatty acid helps support brain health and vitality. However, when you don’t consume enough Omega-3, the myelin sheath surrounding nerve cells can deplete, meaning messages being sent through the brain are either slowed or stop. This can result in poor concentration and even problems with memory.

3. Joint Pain/Arthritis
Since Omega-3s are powerful anti-inflammatory agents, research suggests that regular consumption of these essential fatty acids can reduce tenderness in joints, decrease stiffness, and may result in less medication needed for arthritis symptoms.

4. Brain functioning
Research has found that countries with regular Omega-3 consumption have a lower rate of depression. Since Omega-3 is an essential component of the neurotransmitter serotonin, which is known to improve mood, regular Omega-3 consumption can normalize the brain’s neural activity. Additionally, a 2014 study found that Omega-3 may even help decrease the brain’s inflammatory status making it a vital ingredient for sound brain functioning.

5. Weight Gain/Obesity
Omega-3 fatty acids are found in the most metabolically active cells of the body. Since Omega-3 has been shown to increase this metabolic activity of cells, a deficiency of Omega-3 in one’s diet can lower metabolism and potentially result in weight gain. In fact, a 2007 study published in the “American Journal of Clinical Nutrition” found that, although taking Omega-3 supplements and exercising regularly both help improve cardiovascular health, Omega-3 supplements independently helped reduce body fat in overweight subjects.

6. Eyesight Problems
Omega-3 are important to protecting eye health. Ensuring proper intake of this essential fatty acid may prevent common eye ailments like macular degeneration, dry eye syndrome and glaucoma. In fact, one study found that people who added Omega-3 to their diets were half as likely to develop macular degeneration.