28 August 2020 by Natalie Gibson - Omega 3 fatty acids support the cell membrane structure of each of our cells as well as the internal organelles within the cells, assist with lipid digestion transport and metabolism, maintain stability of chromosomes and regulate gene expression, they form part of the brain and myelin sheath coating nerve cells, important for brain development, regulate skin permeability, calcium and bone metabolism, and play a large role in moderating inflammation throughout the body. 

How much Omega 3 should you have? For general health maintenance: 3g daily
For deficiencies: 6-9g daily

 Signs you may need more omega 3 fatty acids: 

  • Excessive perspiration or thirst 
  • Frequent urination 
  • Dry, itchy skin 
  • Dry hair or dandruff
  • Weak, flaking, splitting or brittle nails
  • Gooseflesh or chicken skin appearance to skin (hyperfollicular keratosis)
  • Poor wound healing 
  • Mood disorders such as anxiety and depression
  • Skin conditions such as eczema or psoriasis
  • Liver and kidney disorders 
  • Gall stones 
  • Fluid retention 
  • Susceptibility to infections 
  • Reproductive disorders such as infertility, miscarriages, irregular menstrual cycles, pre-menstrual syndrome
  • Cardiovascular disorders

Foods to increase your omega 3 intake: 

  • Fish such as salmon, sardines and mackerel 
  • Eggs
  • Animal meats such as turkey, lamb, beef and chicken
  • Flaxseed oil or flaxseeds
  • Chia seeds 
  • Nuts and seeds such as walnuts, pumpkin seed and pecans
  • Tofu
  • Mushrooms

Tips for increasing omega 3 fatty acids: 

  • Eat smaller, oilier fish as these have more omega 3 than the larger fish and also contain less heavy metals 
  • Use flaxseed oil as a part of a salad dressing
  • Snack on nuts and seeds or a trail mix 
  • Sprinkle roasted seeds to salads, soups or stirfries to add crunch
  • Hard boil some eggs and store in fridge for up to 3 days as a convenient snack or addition to a meal 

image: oliviermeerson, Getty Images (via Canva)