Everything You Need To Know About Essential Fatty Acid Deficiency
Published by Dr. Venn-Watson
Dr. Eric Venn-Watson’s Highlights
- Are you getting enough omega-3 in your diet?
- Find out whether supplementing is the right option for you, and how another fatty acid supplement might be a better solution.
Medically reviewed by: Eric Venn-Watson, MD
While you swallow your supplements and commit to a day of fishy-smelling breath, do you ever wonder if you’re really deficient in omega-3 in the first place?
Omega-3 deficiency is very rare and occurs mostly in infants. However, being deficient as an adult is still possible.
We’ll cover everything you need to know about why you need omega-3s, how to tell if you are deficient, and how a surprising new fatty acid might be an optimal choice for helping keep you well.
Why Omega-3 Fatty Acids Are Essential
Over 90 years ago, a husband and wife team discovered an omega-3 and an omega-6 fatty acids as essential fatty acids. To be an essential fatty acid means your body needs it to function properly but cannot make it on its own. Therefore, you have to get it from your diet, or in the form of a supplement.
Since the discovery of omega-3s, research on fatty acids has continued, and it’s taken some surprising turns.
In the 1970’s, Americans were told to avoid all fats, including omega-3. Heart disease had become the number one killer, and dietary guidelines were updated telling us that alldietary fat was bad for us. Everything became fat-free.
At the same time, researchers were studying populations of eskimos in Greenland, called the Inuits, whose diets were rich in omega-3 fatty acids from fish consumption. The Inuits didn’t have heart disease, which made researchers question whether all fats were indeed “bad.”
More and more research was conducted, and the evidence supported the Inuit findings: all fat wasn’t bad for us. In fact, some fat was essential for us. Omega-3 fatty acids like alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) were shown to help support cardiovascular health, playing an important role in maintaining a healthy lipid profile.
Omega-3 fatty acid can be good for your heart and support your cells. However, this doesn’t mean that more omega-3 is better for you. In fact, getting too much omega-3 fatty acid can have a negative impact on your health. From rising levels of blood sugar to an increased risk of bleeding, too much omega-3 is a bad idea.
Not sure if you’re getting too much or too little omega-3? Chances are, you’re getting plenty. It is possible to be deficient, so let’s look at signs and symptoms you may experience if you aren’t getting enough omega-3.
Signs and Symptoms You Are Omega-3 Deficient
A deficiency in omega-3 is pretty rare in adults, and that’s because your daily recommended allowance of omega-3’s is surprisingly very low. Most adults need less than a gram of omega-3 fatty acid per day, or just under 1000mg.
Considering that a single serving of salmon or tuna contains well over a gram of omega-3, it’s likely you’re getting plenty of omega-3 in your diet if you’re consuming the right foods.
Not a meat or fish eater? Don’t worry, there’s plenty of omega-3 hanging out in seeds, walnuts, tofu, and leafy green vegetables to ensure you’re meeting your daily goals.
Deficiency in omega-3 usually comes as a result of lack of access to proper nutrition, known as malnutrition. It’s mostly experienced in infants, particularly preterm infants, not being properly fed or in developing countries where fat intake is incredibly low.
Omega-3 deficiency can also be caused by liver disease, general fat malabsorption, or cystic fibrosis, which can all affect the body's ability to process these fatty acids.
Symptoms of omega-3 deficiency are:
- Brittle nails and hair, peeling, dry cuticles and hair loss
- Rough, flaky, dry skin and dermatitis, which may be associated with an EFA deficiency (essential fatty acid)
- Increased risk of cardiovascular problems
- Poor wound healing
- Abnormalities in red blood cell membranes
- Changes in fatty acid composition in adipose tissues and cell phospholipids
If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, however, it is more likely there is a lack of another nutrient in your diet. For healthy Americans, true omega-3 fatty acid deficiency is essentially non-existent.
How Omega-3 Can Help Support Your Health
Just because you aren’t deficient in fatty acids doesn’t mean they aren’t helping you stay healthy. Fatty acids are, after all, essential to keeping us healthy. A diet rich in healthy fats can support your health, but because dietary guidelines haven’t changed since the 1970’s, you may find you’re still eating a relatively low-fat diet.
Fatty acids are beneficial for the following reasons:
Improve Skin and Hair Conditions
DHA, an omega-3 fatty acid, is a structural component of your skin. Making sure you get enough DHA in your diet helps support your skin and help you avoid chronic skin conditions, dryness, and irritation. DHA and EPA are polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) that can be converted from their precursor, ALA, by certain enzymes in the body.
DHA isn’t an essential fatty acid. Your body can convert ALA into EPA, and then convert EPA into DHA. While APA is the key essential omega-3 fatty acid your body needs, sometimes your body is not able to efficiently convert APA into EPA and DHA. In these cases, it may be best to simply take EPA and DHAsupplements.
Supports Heart Health
Omega-3s have long been considered “heart healthy,” because pure EPA can help lower risk factors associated with heart disease. They can help support lower triglyceride levels and higher HDL levels. DHA, however, has been associated with higher LDL cholesterol levels.
Omega-3s can also help support healthy blood pressure, which can reduce your risk of heart disease.
Growth and Development
If you’ve recently had a baby, you might notice that your child’s formula contains DHA. This is because omega-3s are crucial for healthy brain and body development, as they are components of cell membranes and precursors to eicosanoids, such as prostaglandins (which play a key role in your body’s natural inflammatory response). Your doctor may have even mentioned upping your omega-3 intake during your pregnancy to support the healthy growth and development of your child.
Are There Other Fatty Acids We Need?
Just like a husband and wife team discovered omega-3, health benefits of another fatty acid has been more recently discovered by another husband and wife, and a growing body of research supports it is the first essential fatty acid to have been discovered in over 90 years.†
The health benefits of pentadecanoic acid, also referred to as C15:0, was first discovered in dolphins with fish diets high in C15:0. Compared to similar dolphins whose diet contained less C15:0, the C15:0-enriched dolphins had less long term health issues.†
This led researchers to further study this fatty acid, and the results were nothing short of astounding. Extensive studies show that C15:0 helps support our health from a cellular level, and gives us a fighting chance against aging-related degradation.*†
Elevate your cells. Elevate your self.
Can You Be Deficient in C15:0?
Compared to omega-3s, people are more likely to be deficient in C15:0. In fact, chances are that your C15:0 levels are low.
C15:0 is found in trace amounts in whole milk and full-fat dairy products (which many people are avoiding), and some types of fish.
Because the occurrence of C15:0 is low in most foods, and because we’ve been avoiding fat for an entire generation, it’s likely you are missing it in your diet.
A growing body of science supports that low C15:0 levels may contribute to:
- Unhealthy blood pressure levels
- Insulin resistance
- Cholesterol levels aren’t within healthy range
- Difficulty losing weight, and seeming to carry excess weight around the midsection
- Feeling tired, yet still having trouble sleeping
- Feeling stressed, sad, or unbalanced frequently
The decades we’ve spent avoiding fat have harmed us, and we’ve got a slew of negative health markers to show for it.† Thankfully, there’s a solution.
How Pentadecanoic Acid Helps Support Your Health
C15:0 (pronounced see-fifteen) is available in an easy-to-take supplement that provides you with the perfect amount of this beneficial fatty acid everyday. Fatty15 is the first and only C15:0 supplement that contains FA15™, the pure powder, vegan-friendly, sustainably-produced, award-winning form of C15:0.
Fatty15 was created by the husband and wife team that helped to discover C15:0 as an essential fatty acid. With this simple supplement, you can support your health on a cellular level and give your cells and your body a fighting chance against age-related breakdown that we suffer from as we get older.*†
Our cells age, and thus, we age. Our cells make up our tissues, that make up our organs and systems. When something is wrong on the cellular level, it affects entire systems in our bodies.
- Strengthening cell walls. C15:0 is a sturdy fatty acid that digs into our cell membranes, strengthening them and fortifying them against external stressors. Fragile, weakened cells become stronger and better able to function properly without intrusion.
- Boosting mitochondrial function. Our cell function slows as we get older, because the mitochondria that power them lose function. C15:0 helps support mitochondria function, which helps support increased cellular energy and reduced cellular stress.
Total Body Wellness
Fatty15 contains FA15TM, a pure powder and free fatty acid form of C15:0. FA15TM works to keep you safeguarded against factors that make up metabolic syndrome, a cluster of age-related changes that affect our health and wellness :*
- FA15TM supports healthy metabolism. As we age, our metabolism becomes sluggish. FA15TM naturally binds to receptors, called PPARs (pronounced pee-pars) that regulate our metabolism.
- FA15TM helps balance immunity. Over time, our immune systems become unbalanced, leaving us susceptible to illness and making us feel bad. FA15TM helps support your immune system, bringing it back into homeostasis.
- FA15TM helps support healthy sleep and a balanced mood. By interacting with receptors in our brain called PPARs, FA15TM is able to help support healthy sleep cycles and a more balanced mood.
Fatty15 is the only supplement available to offer pure C15:0, and adding it to your health stack is a great way to promote and protect your health and wellness, especially as you age.
The Bottom Line
While you probably aren’t deficient in omega-3 fatty acidslike ALA or linoleic acid, there’s a good chance you aren’t getting enough pentadecanoic acid, or C15:0, in your diet.
Fatty15 is the solution for improving your health on a cellular level and helping you avoid fatty acid deficiency by supporting a healthy concentration of good fats in the body.
Get started with your 30-day trial of fatty15 today.
Eric Venn-Watson M.D.
Senior Scientist, Co-Founder
Eric is a physician, U.S. Navy veteran, and Co-founder and COO of Seraphina Therapeutics. Eric served over 25 years as a Navy and Marine Corps physician, working with the special forces community to improve their health and fitness. Seraphina Therapeutics is a health and wellness company dedicated to advancing global health through the discovery of essential fatty acids and micronutrient therapeutics.
You May Also Like...
Cellular Hydration: Drinking Water Isn’t Enough
If you’re a health-conscious individual, you’re probably keenly aware of your water intake, ensuring proper hydration levels in your body. However, you might not be aware of your cellular hydration state or just how hydrated the cells in...
Linoleic Acid: Benefits, Uses, & Side Effects
Now that we know that all fat isn’t bad for us, it’s important to ensure the fats we are taking are beneficial. Your fatty acid intake is primarily established through dietary sources, but supplementation could be necessary if you have...