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Omega-3 Deficiency: Symptoms & Solutions

Omega-3 fatty acids are essential fats you must get from food sources. If you don’t get omega-3 fatty acids from food sources, then you may have omega-3 deficiency.

Symptoms of omega-3 deficiency can include skin irritation, brittle or thinning hair, joint pain and stiffness, brain fog, dry eyes, and fatigue.

Fortunately, omega-3 deficiency is easy to address: you can take an omega-3 supplement or add more of certain types of food to your diet.

Keep reading to find out everything you need to know about omega-3 fatty acid deficiency, including symptoms and possible solution.

How Omega-3 Fatty Acids Work

Your body needs multiple types of fats to function. Your body can make most of the fats it needs on its own.

Your body cannot, however, make omega-3 fatty acids. They’re considered essential fats, which means your body cannot make these fats on its own. Instead, you need to get omega-3 fatty acids from food sources.

Omega-3 fatty acids play critical roles throughout the body. Studies have linked omega-3 fatty acids to cardiovascular health, hormone production, and critical tasks at the cellular level.

There are three main types of omega-3 fatty acids, including:

  • Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA)
  • Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)
  • Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA)

ALA is the most common omega-3 fatty acid. It’s the type found in vegetable oils, nuts, and leafy vegetables. EPA and DHA, meanwhile, are considered marine omega-3 fats because they mostly come from fish.

10 Common Symptoms of Omega-3 Deficiency

If you’re deficient in omega-3 fatty acids, then you could experience a range of symptoms – from minor issues to major symptoms to no symptoms whatsoever.

Here are the 10 most common signs you may have omega-3 deficiency:

  1. Skin Irritation & Dryness: One of the first symptoms of omega-3 deficiency is skin dryness or irritation. Omega-3 fatty acids are crucial for supporting your skin’s barrier effect, and increased skin inflammation or other issues could be a sign you’re deficient in omega-3 fatty acids.
  2. Dry Eyes: Your eyes rely on omega-3 fatty acids to stay lubricated.
  3. Joint Pain & Stiffness: Omega-3 fatty acids are crucial for keeping joints healthy and controlling inflammation. Lack of omega-3 fatty acid could increase joint pain issues.
  4. Changes in Hair Quality or Thinning Hair: Changes to hair could indicate an omega-3 deficiency. Your hair needs omega-3 fatty acids for good structure, and poor hair quality or a sensitive scalp could indicate omega-3 fatty acid deficiency.
  5. Increased Dandruff: In addition to a sensitive scalp, you could notice increased dandruff because of your omega 3 deficiency.
  6. Brittle Nails: Omega-3 affects more than just your hair; it also affects your nails. Brittle, thinning, nails could be a sign of omega-3 deficiency.
  7. Mental Fog: Omega-3 is crucial for cognition, and some studies have even connected omega-3 fatty acids to degenerative brain conditions. If you experience symptoms of mental fog – including confusion, poor concentration, and lack of attention – then it could be omega 3 deficiency.
  8. Depression or Mood Changes: There’s some evidence omega-3 is important for mood, and some studies have connected depression and other cognitive conditions to omega-3 fatty acids.
  9. General Fatigue: Do you regularly feel tired? You could be deficient in omega-3.
  10. Increased Thirst & Other Signs of Dehydration: If you regularly feel thirsty or have a dry mouth and throat, then it could be a sign of omega 3 deficiency.

Surprisingly, some people with omega-3 deficiency also experience excessive buildup of earwax because of their condition.

Science-Backed Benefits of Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Researchers have linked omega-3 fatty acids to a range of effects – from cognition to heart health. Below, we’ll review some of the scientific evidence explaining why omega-3 fatty acids are critical for multiple aspects of health.

Cardiovascular Health

Omega-3 fatty acids appear to be beneficial for heart health, and multiple studies have validated this claim.

Studies suggest omega-3 fatty acids help with cholesterol, blood pressure, and overall heart disease:

  • A 2007 study, for example, found the polyunsaturated fatty acids in fish oil were linked to a lower risk of fatal cardiac events. In that study, researchers were attempting to determine why people who ate fish regularly tended to have better cardiovascular health than people who did not.
  • A separate study from 1999 examined the effects of omega-3 fatty acid supplements on heart attack survivors. Participants took 1g of omega-3 fatty acids every day for three years. In a follow-up, researchers found participants in the omega-3 fatty acid group were significantly less likely to experience a second heart attack, stroke, or sudden cardiac event than a group taking a placebo. In fact, those in the omega-3 fatty acid group had a 50% lower risk of sudden cardiac death.
  • Another study involving 18,645 patients examined the effects of 1,800mg of EPA with statin versus statin only. Researchers found sudden cardiac death and coronary death did not differ between groups, although patients in the EPA group had a 19% relative reduction in major coronary events overall.

For all of these reasons and more, doctors may recommend omega-3 fatty acid supplements to anyone concerned about cardiovascular health.

Diabetes & Cholesterol

Diabetics tend to have higher cholesterol levels than non-diabetics. Taking omega-3 fatty acids can help lower triglycerides and raise HDL, helping diabetics support overall heart health.

Studies suggest diabetics can particularly benefit from EPA and DHA as opposed to ALA (which comes from flaxseed and certain types of nuts). In other words, fish-based omega-3 fatty acids may be beneficial.

Rheumatoid Arthritis

As Mount Sinai explains, studies suggest omega-3 fatty acids could help people with osteoarthritis, although more research is needed to verify this connection.

Studies have found omega-3 fatty acids could reduce joint stiffness and pain, improve grip strength, and increase walking pace in people with osteoarthritis, for example. Meanwhile, a large review found some people with osteoarthritis experienced significant pain relief after taking omega-3 fatty acid supplements.

Cognition & Certain Cognitive Conditions

Omega-3 fatty acids appear to impact the brain and overall cognition in multiple ways. Some studies have even linked omega-3 fatty acid supplementation to relief from certain cognitive conditions.

  • In a 2015 review published in Integrative Medicine Research, researchers found a connection between omega-3 fatty acid supplementation and relief from depression. Researchers found multiple studies showing omega-3 fatty acids were “proving to be very effective against the treatment of major depression disorder” and certain other psychiatric disorders. However, researchers cautioned more evidence was needed to verify this connection.
  • Some small studies have also connected omega-3 fatty acid supplementation to bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, with people relieving certain symptoms of either condition with omega-3 fatty acid supplements.
  • Other studies suggest children with ADHD tend to have lower levels of essential fatty acids (including EPA and DHA) than children without ADHD. However, studies have not conclusively determined omega-3 fatty acid supplements can reduce symptoms of ADHD.
  • There’s some evidence omega-3 fatty acid supplements have protective effects against Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, and other degenerative cognitive conditions. Many people take omega-3 fatty acid supplements daily for that reason. According to the Alzheimer’s Society of the United Kingdom, there is “good evidence” that eating fish “is good for your health” and there are “reports that it may reduce the risk of developing dementia,” although they cautioned more evidence was needed to verify this connection.

Check Your Blood for Deficiencies with a Painless, Accurate Blood Test Today

Science Nutrition Lab specializes in testing blood to provide crucial insight into your health.

Do you feel tired? Do you experience mental fog? Do you suddenly have joint pain or a general feeling of being unwell? None of these things are normal – and a deficiency could be to blame.

Order a Science Nutrition Lab blood test today to check how your bloodwork compares to an optimal range. 

“Natural Viagra”: How the Right Vitamins & Minerals Could Support Sexual Performance

Many people take vitamins, minerals, and herbal supplements daily to support sex drive.

Do you have low sex drive or poor sexual performance? It could be linked to a vitamin or mineral deficiency.

Your body needs certain vitamins and minerals to produce sex hormones. Without those vitamins and minerals, you could experience symptoms of sexual dysfunction.

Keep reading to discover how certain vitamins, minerals, and nutritional supplements could act as “natural Viagra” and support sex drive in multiple ways.

Vitamin D: Supports Sexual Function and Sex Drive in Multiple Ways

Vitamin D is crucial for hormone production. If you’re deficient in vitamin D, then you could have imbalanced hormones. Your body produces vitamin D from exposure to sunlight. You can also get vitamin D from food.

Studies show people with low sex drive also tend to have low levels of vitamin D. Studies also show the greater your vitamin D deficiency, the lower your sex drive tends to be.

Researchers believe vitamin D is connected to sex through its effects on endothelial cells. Endothelial cells play a critical role in blood flow to sexual organs during sex. Vitamin D appears to protect endothelial cells from oxidative stress (i.e. inflammation), which could help with sexual performance.

Other studies have connected vitamin D to nitric oxide (NO), a crucial natural molecule for blood flow. NO expands blood vessels, making it easier for blood to flow to your sexual organs.

Vitamin D could also help support your body’s response to stress, depression, and anxiety – all of which could decrease sex drive.

Magnesium: Important for Relaxation, Nerve Function, and Mood

Magnesium is essential for the metabolism of nitric oxide. As mentioned above, nitric oxide (NO) is critical for blood flow. Your body produces less nitic oxide as you get older, which can lead to declining sexual function.

In one study involving 372 older men with chronic kidney disease, researchers found a connection between hypomagnesemia (low magnesium levels in the blood) and erectile dysfunction. Men with normal magnesium levels tended to have good erectile function and overall sexual function, while men with low magnesium levels did not.

Other studies have connected magnesium to hormone production in men and women and overall sexual function. Because magnesium is important for nervous system health throughout the body, magnesium deficiency can cause many effects throughout your body – from sexual function to athletic performance.



Zinc: Critical for Testosterone Production

Men who are deficient in zinc tend to have lower testosterone production than men who get their recommended daily intake of zinc. Zinc is crucial for multiple body processes – including testosterone production.

If you are deficient in zinc, then taking a zinc supplement could raise testosterone levels. One study found a specific connection between zinc supplementation and higher testosterone. Men with low testosterone took a zinc supplement or a placebo, with men in the zinc group raising testosterone higher than men in the placebo group.

However, this testosterone effect does not appear in men who already get sufficient levels of zinc. If you already get your recommended daily intake of zinc in your diet, then taking a zinc supplement may not raise zinc levels further.

Check your blood for a zinc deficiency with a Science Nutrition Lab blood test and compare your bloodwork against an optimal range based on your age and gender. A zinc deficiency could lead to sexual dysfunction and abnormally low testosterone levels.

Vitamin E: Supports Sperm Count and Inflammation

Vitamin E is one of nature’s best antioxidants. It’s critical for skin health, hormone balance, and oxygen and blood flow to your sexual organs.

Many people take vitamin E supplements (or apply vitamin E serums) daily for anti-aging benefits. Those same anti-aging benefits could help with sexual function: the antioxidant properties of vitamin E can support healthy inflammation, making it easier for blood to flow throughout your body.

Amino Acids: Blood Flow and Nitric Oxide

Some of the world’s best sexual health supplements work by addressing blood flow. By supporting blood flow, these supplements make you feel like you have a stronger sex drive, greater sexual stamina, and better sexual performance overall.

Amino acid supplements are some of the best for supporting blood flow and other related benefits.

L-citrulline is one of the most popular amino acid supplement ingredients for sex drive, and many people take L-citrulline daily for that reason. Your body converts L-citrulline into L-arginine, which is associated with nitric oxide and blood flow. In one 2011 study, men with erectile dysfunction, high blood pressure, and diabetes took 1.5g of L-citrulline daily to help with sexual function. After 30 days, L-citrulline supplementation improved symptoms in 50% of men.

Since your body converts L-citrulline to L-arginine, you can also take L-arginine supplements for sexual function. In one 2019 study, researchers reviewed 10 L-arginine trials involving 540 patients with ED. Participants took 1,500 to 5,000mg of L-arginine daily, then experienced significant improvements in intercourse satisfaction, orgasmic function, and erectile function. In other words, L-arginine supplementation appears to genuinely improve sexual function based on 10 trials involving hundreds of patients.

Unproven Herbal Supplements: More Hype Than Science

A quick search for “sexual health supplements” online reveals thousands of results. These supplements use herbs, plants, and other ingredients to target sexual function in various ways.

It’s rare for any of these sexual health supplements to be backed by major scientific evidence. Many of these supplements are formulated by marketing teams or businesspeople with limited medical experience. Others use unproven ingredients, proprietary formulas, or unsafe blends while claiming to target crucial body functions like hormones.

Generally, you can skip unproven herbal extracts because they’re more hype than science. Horny goat weed, fenugreek, maca, and ginseng may sound like good herbal supplements for sexual health, but there’s little largescale evidence in humans proving they work.

Final Word

Address nutritional deficiencies to support sexual function.

If your body is deficient in certain vitamins and minerals, then you’ll struggle to maintain good sex drive, blood flow, and sexual function.

Adjust your diet or take a supplement to address deficiencies affecting your sexual health. Or, take a Science Nutrition Lab blood test to identify deficiencies long before symptoms appear.

Top 5 Science-Backed Benefits of L-Carnitine

L-carnitine supplements have grown in popularity in recent years.

Today, many people take L-carnitine supplements regularly for everything from energy to brain function. The amino acid works by transporting long-chain fatty acids into the powerhouses of your body, boosting energy at the cellular level.

Is L-carnitine legit? Do L-carnitine supplements really work? Keep reading to discover the most science-backed benefits of L-carnitine.

How L-Carnitine Works

L-carnitine is an amino acid linked to energy, heart function, and brain function, among other benefits.

Your body produces L-carnitine in the brain, liver, and kidneys.

The most important function of L-carnitine is to transport fatty acids into the mitochondria of your cells, which is why L-carnitine is so important for energy production.

Although your body produces L-carnitine on its own, it needs vitamin C to produce sufficient L-carnitine. You can also get L-carnitine from certain animal products, including meat and fish.

You May Be Deficient in L-Carnitine

If you have low physical or mental energy, mental fog, or other noticeable issues, then you may be deficient in L-carnitine.

Having low energy isn’t normal at any age! A single test can check for L-carnitine deficiency.

Many vegans and vegetarians are deficient in L-carnitine, for example. Because the most common sources of L-carnitine are meat and fish.

Some people also have a genetic condition that makes it impossible to produce sufficient L-carnitine.

For all of these reasons and more, you may want to:

  • Take a painless Science Nutrition Lab test to spot changes in your blood before you notice symptoms
  • Take an L-carnitine supplement
  • Talk to a doctor about a customized treatment plan

Benefit #1: Weight Loss

L-carnitine could support weight loss and healthy weight management, according to multiple studies.

One of the largest reviews on L-carnitine found the amino acid led to average weight loss of 2.9lbs (1.3kgs) more than a placebo. That study reviewed 9 trials involving hundreds of participants taking L-carnitine in double-blind, placebo-controlled settings.

Now all L-carnitine studies have been conclusive for weight loss, however. One study found people taking L-carnitine over a four week period while riding a stationary bike for 90 minutes a day did not lose more weight than those taking a placebo, for example. In a separate 8-week study, 38 women experienced no difference in weight loss whether taking L-carnitine or a placebo.

Overall, L-carnitine could help with weight loss in some people. Although it’s not proven to work in everyone, it could support weight loss in some.

Benefit #2: Cognition & Mental Fog

If you experience mental lethargy, brain fog, or occasional cognitive issues, then L-carnitine could help. L-carnitine plays a crucial role in neurotransmitter production, helping to support messengers within your brain.

Many of the cognitive effects of L-carnitine are linked to a specific version of the amino acid called acetyl L-carnitine. Also known as ALCAR, this version may help prevent age-related mental decline. A separate study also found ALCAR enhanced learning capacity in aging rats.

Researchers gave ALCAR to a group of patients with Alzheimer’s disease to assess the effects. Participants took 2.5g of ALCAR per day or a placebo for 6 months. Researchers found this dose of ALCAR was associated with an improvement in certain cognitive symptoms of Alzheimer’s.

There’s even some evidence L-carnitine could help support mental acuity in people with addiction. In a 90 day trial, people with alcohol addiction taking 2g of L-carnitine per day improved all measures of brain function.

Overall, L-carnitine plays a critical role in mental and physical energy, and multiple studies have validated the effects of L-carnitine on brain health.

Benefit #3: Cardiovascular Health

There’s some evidence L-carnitine can help with blood pressure and overall cardiovascular health. One study found L-carnitine reduced blood pressure, for example, while another study found L-carnitine reduced cardiovascular inflammation, which is associated with heart disease.

Heart disease is the number one killer in most developed countries. Statistically, most are more likely to die of heart disease than any other cause.

In one 2009 study, researchers found daily intake of 2g of L-carnitine led to a 10-point drop in systolic blood pressure (the top number of a blood pressure reading). This number is considered particularly important for managing the risk of heart disease, heart attack, and stroke.

A separate study found L-carnitine supplementation was linked to a significantly reduced risk of heart failure over a 12 month period.

Benefit #4: Blood Sugar

There’s some evidence L-carnitine can help with blood sugar, and some diabetics take L-carnitine supplements regularly for that reason.

Some of the blood sugar-linked benefits of L-carnitine include:

A 2010 study found a combination of L-carnitine supplementation and caloric restriction improved insulin sensitivity in patients with impaired glucose metabolism. Participants followed a restricted diet while taking a placebo or 4g of L-carnitine daily. Researchers found the L-carnitine group had better insulin sensitivity than the group following a restricted calorie diet alone.

A 2011 study found L-carnitine improved insulin sensitivity in a group of overweight and obese males. Participants took 3g of L-carnitine or a placebo daily. At the conclusion of the period, researchers found significant differences in body mass, fat percentage, and BMI between the L-carnitine group and placebo group, suggesting L-carnitine can provide “insulin-like” actions on tissues, according to researchers. However, the study was small and involved 16 male participants in total.

A separate study also found a connection between carnitine, fatty acids, and insulin resistance, and researchers found 2g of L-carnitine supplementation per day helped with the regulation of blood sugar.

Overall, there appears to be a connection between L-carnitine and blood sugar management, and many diabetics take L-carnitine supplements regularly for that reason.

Benefit #5: Athletic Performance, Endurance, and Recovery

Many people take L-carnitine supplements before a workout. In fact, L-carnitine is one of the most popular preworkout supplement ingredients on the market.

L-carnitine appears to work by supporting blood flow and nitric oxide production, which can help with stamina, endurance, and the longevity of your workout. Some bodybuilders take L-carnitine for a better “pump” and vasodilation, for example, while endurance athletes could take L-carnitine to workout harder for longer.

L-carnitine also appears to work by increasing the production of red blood cells. Your body needs red blood cells to transport oxygen to your muscles. When you’re working out, your red blood cells play a critical role in performance, endurance, and overall athletic activity.

Others take L-carnitine after a workout. Multiple studies have found L-carnitine could improve exercise recovery, helping your body repair muscles and tissues after a workout.

Final Word

We’ve known about the effects of L-carnitine for a while. However, growing research continues to connect L-carnitine to heart health, brain health, blood sugar management, energy, and more.

Do you have brain fog or low energy? Do you regularly feel tired? That’s not normal at any age!

Consider taking a Science Nutrition Lab test to check for L-carnitine deficiency and other deficiencies to address your low energy.  

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