Omega-3 Index Test Information
Your cells are made up of fats. And that's a good thing!
Your Omega-3 Index
A correlation has been found between an individual's omega-3 index and their risk of certain health conditions including cardiovascular health, brain health, eye health and joint health.
Maintaining an omega-3 index of 8% to 12% is a proven way of lowering your risk of health conditions related to cardiovascular health, brain health, eye health and joint health.
What Is Your Omega-3 Index?
If you do not know your omega-3 index you should do an Omega-3 Index Test to find out your levels.
Research shows that it is best to have an Omega-3 Index of 8% to 12% to lower your risk of health conditions related to cardiovascular health, brain health, eye health and joint health
How To Do The Omega-3 Index Test
The Omega-3 Index Test is an inexpensive test and can be done at home or in the clinic.
You will have a test kit delivered to you with the instructions for the test. When we receive you Omega-3 Index test results we will contact you.
How can I improve my levels?
Your Omega-3 Index Test gives you a report of the fats that make up your cells. Some fatty acid levels are closely related to what you eat while others are more affected by your metabolism. Below is some information about how to improve your overall fatty acid profile through diet.
The Institute of Medicine recommends that adults consume 6-8 grams per day of polyunsaturated fats, which include both omega-3s (~1 gram) and omega-6s (6-7 grams). These recommendations are related to avoiding an essential fatty acid deficiency, not for “optimal” health. The Omega-6/Omega-3 and the AA/EPA ratios are largely determined by the omega-3 or EPA level, respectively. So, the easiest way to improve your ratios is to improve your Omega-3 Index by eating more omega-3s! See Omega-3s below for more information.
The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends 2 servings of fish per week (see Table below), averaging out to 250 mg/day EPA+DHA. Other countries, such as Canada and Australia, recommend 400-500 mg/day EPA+DHA. The FDA has also ruled that intakes of up to 3,000 mg/day of EPA+DHA combined from foods is “Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS)” and may be consumed without concern of adverse effects by all adults. There are also recommendations for specific health conditions, such as:
Patients with coronary heart disease – 1,000 mg/day EPA+DHA
Patients with high triglycerides – 3,000-4,000 mg/day EPA+DHA
Fish is the best dietary source for the omega-3s, EPA+DHA. Dietary intake of EPA+DHA directly influences Omega-3 Index. “Fatty,” “oily,” and “cold-water” are terms used to describe fish with higher levels of EPA+DHA. A full list of fish and their EPA+DHA levels is included in your report.
Fish oil supplements are a safe and potent source of EPA+DHA. The source and form of the omega-3s in the supplements affect how well you absorb the omega-3s, as well as whether or not you take them with food. There are also vegan/vegetarian supplements which contain omega-3s produced by algae and yeast. It is important to look at the label for the amount of EPA+DHA, specifically, that the supplement contains. For example, many supplements are 1,000 mg of fish oil but only contain 300 mg of EPA+DHA. There are some examples of the EPA+DHA levels in supplements included your report.
Plant-sources of omega-3s, such as walnuts, flaxseed oil and chia or flaxseeds, contain the omega-3 ALA. To a small extent, this omega-3 can be converted into EPA (and to an even smaller extent, DHA) in the body, but it is much less effective at raising Omega-3 Index levels when compared to taking pre-formed EPA+DHA. Plant-based omega-3 sources are still healthy food choices, but they will not raise your Omega-3 Index.
The primary dietary sources of omega-6s are vegetable oils and meats. The level of the primary omega-6 in your blood, linoleic acid, is influenced by the amount you eat averaged over many months. Blood levels of other omega-6s, like arachidonic acid, are mostly determined by your body’s metabolism rather than your diet. In other words, it isn’t easy to alter your blood levels of most omega-6s, and making significant changes in linoleic acid levels takes months to years. Most experts recommend somewhere between 12 and 24 grams per day of linoleic acid, with the average intake in America being around 15 grams per day.
Major dietary sources of monounsaturated fats are nuts, avocados, and olive oil. The fatty acid most commonly associated with olive oil, oleic acid, makes up 95% of the monounsaturated fats in your cells. That does not mean that all the oleic acid in your cells is from eating olive oil! Oleic acid is made by your body in addition to being from your diet, and whether higher or lower blood levels are healthy is not clear. The dietary sources of monounsaturated fats are considered an essential part of a healthy diet, however. Another fat in this category is palmitoleic acid, and higher levels are paradoxically connected to high carbohydrate intake and possibly insulin resistance. Blood levels of this fat will respond to dietary changes in carbohydrates.
Common dietary sources of saturated fat are cheese and other full-fat dairy products, meats, and baked goods. Blood levels of saturated fat are not strongly linked to eating saturated fat and their link to health outcomes is also unclear. Eating high amounts of saturated fat increases the cholesterol levels in your blood, however, which increases risk of heart disease. Interestingly, blood levels of palmitic acid, a common saturated fatty acid, are related to increased risk of diabetes and possibly excessive carbohydrate intake.
Eating less trans fats is the only way to lower trans fat blood levels. Sometimes you may be eating trans fats without even knowing it! Since 2006 food manufactures have been required to list the trans fat content per serving on the Nutrition Facts Panel, however this a bit misleading. If a serving size has less than 0.5 g of trans fat, food manufactures are able to claim 0 g of trans fat per serving. So, food manufactures can make sure their servings are small enough so that they don’t need to list any trans fat on the nutrition label, and they might even advertise as 0 g trans fat on the front of the product! Since the Nutrition Facts Panel may not tell you the trans fat whole story, you can look for the term “partially hydrogenated oils” in the ingredients list. If this is listed, you can bet that the food contains some amount of trans fat. Foods that likely contain trans fats are cookies, cakes, pies, microwave popcorn, margarines, coffee creamers, and biscuits. This issue should be resolved with the complete removal of trans fats from the US food supply but that process won’t be complete for (at least) 3 years (2019); until then, you can follow these aforementioned tips to avoid trans fats.