Supplement warning: Study found 98 per cent of people are deficient in THIS nutrient

It is often recommended that a person can get all the nutrients they need from a balanced diet, with supplements not necessary.

However, a new study suggests that might not always be the case.

Researchers at Purdue University found that 98 per cent of a people are likely to be deficient in omega-3 fatty acids.

Fish, walnuts and chia seeds are all rich in the nutrient, but it appears that the majority of people don’t consume enough. 

They also found that 82 per cent of people believed they didn’t need to take a supplement to have a balanced diet.

"In the field of nutrition we often wonder why people do not choose to eat according to recommendations,” said Regan Bailey, associate professor of nutrition science, Purdue University.

“Our results suggest that apart from knowledge, other factors may influence the intake of omega-3 fatty acids.

“It is essential to identify strategies for closing the gap between intake and concentration of omega-3 fatty acids to help reduce the risk of coronary heart disease and help support brain, joint and eye health.”

Previous research has found that consuming enough omega-3 could help prevent dementia.

A study published in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease showed that the nutrient could increase blood flow in the brain.

For the new findings, researchers looked at 200 healthy US and German adults.

"Omega-3s are considered "essential" because the body needs them to function but can't create them on its own," said Nigel Denby, Head of Dietetics at Grub4Life in London, and finding member of the Global Nutrition and Health Alliance (GNHA). 

"They must come from dietary sources but the reality is, diet alone may not be enough, especially if you are like many people who don't have access to fresh, quality foods and their nutritional content."

Another benefit of omega-3 could be its protective effects against flu and infection.

It is thought they could be beneficial for boosting the immune system and regulating inflammation.

“They build healthy mucous membranes - the delicate skin that lines the airways and digestive systems, which act as a first line barrier guarding against entry of germs into the body,” explained Babi Chana, biochemist and nutritionist for Wiley's Finest.