regular intake of the omega-3 fatty acids, EPA and DHA is believed to have
several health benefits, some questions remain unanswered. Do we all need more
omega-3 or just some of us? Is eating fish sufficient or do we need to take
supplements? Is there a way to tell if the cells in our body are getting enough
omega-3 or if we are deficient? Yes. The Omega-3 Index may provide answers to some
of these questions.
Omega-3 Index reflects the relative amount of omega-3 fatty acids within red
blood cell membranes. The index can be measured using a simple blood sample. You do not need your doctor to order this test for you, it is a self administered test you can do at home. Measurements of fatty acids in red blood cell
membranes can provide important information about fatty acid intake. Recently,
the relative amount of omega-3 fatty acids in red blood cells has attracted
interest as it
may provide information about the future risk of heart disease.
show that a low Omega-3 Index is associated with increased risk of
cardiovascular disease, and it has been proposed that raising the index may
help to reduce risk.
Omega-3 Index reflects the relative amount of EPA + DHA in red blood cells. It
is expressed as the percentage of the total amount of fatty acids present. In
fact it’s quite simple; if 8% of all the fatty acids present in red cell
membranes is EPA+DHA, the Omega-3 Index is 8%.
Omega-3 Index and Cardiovascular Risk
been hypothesized that the Omega-3 Index may predict the risk of future
cardiovascular events such as coronary heart disease and cardiac arrest. If
that’s correct, a low Omega-3 Index may be regarded as a risk factor, similar
to smoking, high blood pressure and high blood levels of LDL cholesterol.
average Omega-3 Index in the United States is believed to be between 4-5 %. In
Japan, where coronary artery disease is less common and life
span longer, the
average Omega-3 Index is 9-10%. This is because the population in Japan eats
more fish than the population in the US.
epidemiological studies and randomized controlled trials demonstrate that the
Omega-3 Index was inversely associated with the risk for mortality from coronary
heart disease. An Omega-3 Index of ≥8% was associated with the greatest
protection, whereas an index of ≤4% was associated with the least.
study, published 2008 showed that the Omega-3 Index as independently associated
with the risk of developing acute coronary syndrome.
Index >8% is optimal while an index of <4% may be regarded as deficient.
simplest way to improve the Omega-3 Index is to increase your intake of EPA and
DHA by eating marine products rich in omega-3 fatty acids.
For the Intake of Omega-3 Fatty Acids
without cardiovascular disease, most experts recommend eating a variety of fish
(preferably oily) at least twice a week to maintain a mean intake of 4-500 mg
of EPA+DHA daily.
with documented coronary heart disease, a daily dose of EPA+DHA of 1.000 mg per
day is recommended.
someone wanting to achieve the suggested ideal Omega-3 Index of 8% 2000 mg of
EPA + DHA daily is suggested.
individuals with elevated serum triglycerides a daily dose of EPA + DHA of 2000
mg to 4000 mg per day is what doctors suggest. Since fish may be contaminated
with mercury and other pollutants, be sure the fish oil supplement you choose
is purified and has been third party tested.
IFOS, The InternationalFish Oil Standards program offers consumers a way to compare the highest
quality fish oil brands. Carlson offers a wide array of potent pure fish oil
supplements that have been tested by IFOS.
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