Here’s Why You Need to Take the Omega-3 Index Test
Medically Reviewed by Dr. Nicole Avena
Your brain needs specific types of omega-3 fatty acids to function optimally.
Though not technically classified as essential, these fatty acids are often considered essential for a reason – our bodies need them, and the only way to get enough of them is through foods or supplements.
Adding appropriate amounts of healthy fats into your diet can have lasting benefits for your health. One of the best sources of healthy fats is omega-3 fatty acids.
Omega-3 fatty acids are vital for our nerve cells and other brain cells to make and maintain the trillions of connections that our brain uses for information processing. They’re also crucial for all our cells to make the energy they need to function.
Sadly, today’s modern diet is typically low in omega-3-rich foods (which include fish, grass-fed meats, nuts, seeds, and dark leafy greens) and high in omega-6-rich foods with saturated fats and oils (corn, safflower, soybean, cottonseed, peanut).
Let’s take a closer look at the two most important omega-3 fatty acids.
EPA and DHA
Only two fatty acids have been proven essential for humans: linoleic acid (LA), the parent fatty acid of the omega-6 series, and alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), the parent fatty acid of the omega-3 series.
Omega-3’s health benefits primarily come from their long-chain fatty acids EPA and DHA.
- EPA fatty acids are less abundant in brain cells than DHA fatty acids but are known to be essential for healthy inflammatory responses as well as for the production of new nerve cells.
- DHA is the most prevalent fatty acid found in the brain. It’s also vital to the creation and maintenance of all the cells in both the brain and the retina (which functionally is an extension of the brain).
Since the body is inefficient at converting plant ALA into EPA and DHA, we need to eat foods that contain these omega-3s performed, namely cold-water fish.
Considering costs, convenience, and the dangers of contamination of fish with mercury and hundreds of other environmental pollutants, many authoritative organizations recommend taking reputable, concentrated fish oil supplements to ensure adequate daily intakes of EPA and DHA.
Healthy Omega Levels
Surveys indicate most people don’t get enough omega-3s in their diet. Research consistently shows that most Americans aren’t getting the amounts of EPA and DHA in their tissues that they likely require for optimal brain and heart health. Some studies demonstrate that as many as 90% of adults have suboptimal levels.
Omega-3 EPA and DHA, and certain omega-6 fatty acids, are important for our health, but the standard American diet (SAD) gives us too little of the former and too much of the latter. Appropriate ratios are key. Eating too many foods rich in omega-6 fatty acids may be a problem because they can cancel out the benefits of omega-3 fatty acids when the ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 is too high.
One way to balance this ratio is to eat fewer foods that contain omega-6 fatty acids and more that contain omega-3 fatty acids. Another way to help balance the omega-6 to omega-3 ratio is to take a high-quality omega-3 supplement every day.*
Omega-3s and Aging
As the body ages, it seems to become less efficient at using omega-3 EPA and DHA. Whether you’re young, middle-aged, or moving on in years, it’s important to have your Omega-3 Index measured.
Here’s Why You Should Take the Omega-3 Index Test
Omega-3 Index Test Basics
The Omega-3 Index test only requires a single drop of blood to measure the total amount of omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA in the membranes of your red blood cells. It also directly reflects the levels of these fatty acids in the brain and other organs.
The test is a clinically validated biomarker of your overall health, and a low level suggests your brain health may be at risk. In fact, your
Healthy Omega-3 Level
The optimal ratio isn’t known, except that we need at least an Omega-3 Index of However, most Americans are running an index under 8 percent, with an average index of 5.1.
It’s recommended to aim for a level above 8 percent; 4 percent or lower suggests risk for cardiovascular, brain, and other health problems.
How to Get to 8 Percent
Based on clinical research that examined how intakes of EPA and DHA improved the Omega-3 Index, it’s recommended that most adults take 1,400 to 2,800 mg of EPA and DHA omega-3 fatty acids a day. Children should get at least 700 mg per 40 pounds of body weight.
When purchasing an omega-3 supplement, be sure to carefully read the label to find the EPA and DHA content, not the total fish oil content. Many budget fish oil supplements supply only 300 mg, not 1000 mg of EPA and DHA as their recommended daily dose.
Optimize Your Omegas
Getting adequate amounts of omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA can help improve overall brain and body function and well-being. To ensure you’re getting enough Omega 3s, it’s recommended that you take the Omega-3 Index test. You can purchase the test here.
Remember, an index value greater than 8 percent suggests you have sufficient omega-3 status. It’s important for anyone looking to stay on top of their physical and mental game to incorporate omega-3 supplements into their healthcare regimen and maintain their Omega-3 Index between 8 and 12 percent.
At BrainMD, we’re dedicated to providing the highest purity nutrients to improve your physical health and overall well-being. For more information about our full list of brain healthy supplements, please visit us at BrainMD.
*These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. This content is for informational purposes only. It is not meant to substitute for medical or healthcare advice from a physician, nor is it intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Consult your healthcare provider before beginning a new health regimen.
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What if you are allergic to fish? Fish oil supplements make me feel weak.