What are Omega-3 fatty acids?
Omega-3 fatty acids are part of the membranes surrounding each cell. They are commonly found in food rich in fish oil, plant based oils and dietary supplements.
These fatty acids play important roles in healthy heart, eyes, brain, immune system, joints, lungs, blood vessels, and hormone balance.
There is a long list of fatty acids, but the three key ones are AHA (alpha-linolenic acid), EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid), and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid). AA (arachidonic acid) is another important Omega-6 fatty acid.
Because our body doesn’t make most of these fatty acids in sufficient amount, foods such as flaxseed, fish oil, canola oil, soybean, seafood, and dietary supplements are the main source of them.
What is Omega-3 Index?
The Omega-3 index is a range defined based on EPA and DHA levels for optimal health. A range of 8-12% is considered desirable and can be improved by consuming optimal amounts of foods rich in Omega-3 fatty acids.
Why test for Omega-3?
Because they play an important role in heart health, immune system, and healthy brain, eyes, joints, and endocrine system, it’s vital to monitor Omega-3 levels. The Office of Dietary Supplements at NIH says optimal levels play key role in managing chronic diseases, cardiovascular disease, in
the development of babies, and in avoiding Alzheimer’s and dementia. Omega-3 acids also help in preventing dry-eyes, arthritis, and pain in joints.
What the sources of fatty acids?
The Omega-3 fatty acids are naturally found many foods in our diets:
- Fish and seafoods (cod, krill, salmon, tuna, trout, mackerel, sardines, herring, and other fatty fish).
- Plant based oils (soybean, canola, flaxseed).
- Many nuts and seeds (chia, flaxseed, walnuts).
- Dietary supplements (e.g., fish oil, krill oil, cod liver oil, algae oil).
- Specific fortified foods (including certain eggs, milk, yoghurt, juices, soy milk, and formulas).
- The Omega-6 fatty acids, e.g., AA (arachidonic acid) are supplied by dietary animal sources, such as eggs and meats.
What is tested with the Omega-3 Test?
The test will measure for the following:
- Omega-3 Index: an indication overall health, a range of 8-12% is desired.
- Omega-6: Omega-3 ratio: calculated by dividing the sum of 7 Omega-6 fatty acids by 4 Omega-3 acids. Desirable range is 3:1 to 5:1.
- AA:EPA ratio: another marker of Omega-6 to Omega-3 ratio. The desirable range is 2.5:1 to 11:1.
- Trans-fat Index: Our body can’t make tran-fats and industrial sources of these fats have impacted our cardiovascular health. Values as low as possible are desired but are typically observed below 1%.
How to get tested for Omega-3?
The easiest low-cost way to get tested for Omega-3 fatty acids is from the convenience of your home. Simply order an Omega-3 Test kit, collect the sample at home, ship it for free to our world class CLIA-certified labs, and find out your results in less than a week.
Follow the NIH page for detailed discussion about Omega-3, sources, deficiency, and published research here.