However, many people are deficient in this key nutrient. Data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey found that 66% of adults and 95% of children are not getting enough of the omega-3 fatty acids, EPA and DHA, in their diets. (1)
Given the widespread deficiency of fatty acids, it is important to know if you are consuming enough omega-3 fats to fully optimize your health. Now, assessment of your omega-3 fats is available with an at-home blood spot test — the Omega-3 Index+ At-Home Test, which can let you know if you are deficient in omega-3s and more.
What the Omega-3 Index+ At-Home Test Kit Tells You
The Omega-3 Index: The Omega-3 Index test is used to measure the amount of two key fatty acids in the blood: eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). The proportion of EPA and DHA in your red blood cell membrane is proportional to your consumption of omega-3 fatty acids.
A higher proportion of EPA and DHA indicates better health, especially in terms of heart, brain, eye, and joint health. For instance, one study found that those who had the highest levels of omega-3s in their system were 50 to 70% less likely to experience a heart attack. (2, 3)
You should aim to get your Omega-3 Index between 8% and 12%.
Omega-6/Omega-3 Ratio: The omega-6:omega-3 ratio (n-6:n-3) looks at seven omega-6 and four omega-3 fatty acids. The total measurement of the omega-6 fats is divided by the amount of omega-3 fats to get a ratio.
As a whole, we consume way too many omega-6s and far too few omega-3s. While the recommended ratio is 3:1 or 5:1 (omega-6s:omega-3s), we typically consume a ratio between 15-16 omega-6s to 1 omega-3. (4)
This imbalance is said to contribute to a variety of different diseases including heart disease, cancer, osteoporosis, and autoimmune diseases.
AA/EPA Ratio: A more specific omega-6:omega-3 ratio is the AA:EPA ratio, which compares the amount of the omega-6 fatty acid known as arachidonic acid (AA) to the amount of the omega-3 fatty acid EPA. AA and EPA influence metabolism by contributing to the development of important signaling molecules that can affect inflammation reduction, blood pressure regulation, blood clotting, and immune response via fever promotion.
This AA and EPA ratio can indicate health status because of the many bodily processes that these fatty acids can influence. The optimal range for the AA:EPA ratio is 2.5:1 – 11:1.
Trans Fat Index: Naturally occurring and industry-produced trans fats are harmful to health. Trans fats increase low-density lipoproteins (“bad” cholesterol) and decrease levels of high-density lipoproteins (“good” cholesterol).
High intake of trans fats amplifies the risk of death from any cause by 34% and the risk of death from coronary heart disease by 28%. (5)
The Trans Fat Index measures industrially produced trans fats. The level recommended in the Trans Fat Index is below 1%. Many people who believe they eat a good diet are surprised by their levels of these undesirable fats.
- Individual Fatty Acids: The measurement of 24 individual fatty acids in the blood is used to calculate the Omega-3 Index, the omega-6:omega-3 ratio, the AA:EPA ratio, and the Trans Fat Index. These individual fatty acid levels also may be used as indicators of health status because they come from diet. For example, one fatty acid measured by the Omega-3 Index+ At-Home Test is palmitoleic acid, which results from high intakes of simple carbohydrates.
Why We Chose the Omega-3 Index+ At-Home Test Kit
How to TestThere are four simple steps to the Omega-3 Index+ At-Home Test Kit:
- Collect Sample: Follow the step-by-step instructions to collect your blood sample.
- Mail Sample: Put your sample in the return envelope and drop it in the mail.
- Get Results: In 2 to 4 weeks you will receive your personalized results.
- Modify Diet: Use recommendations and healthcare provider guidance to modify your diet.
See our blogs below to learn more about omega-3 fatty acids and their impacts on health:
- Be Mindful of Your Mind with 8 Brain-Boosting Nutrients
- Unhappy and Happy Joints: The Basics
- 4 Nutrients to Optimize Your Heart Health
- Defend Your Body against Air Pollution with 3 Key Nutrients
- Murphy, R.A., et al. 2021. Long-chain omega-3 fatty acid serum concentrations across life stages in the USA: An analysis of NHANES 2011-2012. BMJ Open 11:e043301.
- Siscovick, D. S., et al. 1995. Dietary intake and cell membrane levels of long-chain n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids and the risk of primary cardiac arrest. JAMA 274(17):1363-1367.
- Albert, C. M., et al. 2002. Blood levels of long-chain n-3 fatty acids and the risk of sudden death. New England Journal of Medicine 346:1113-1118.
- Simopoulos, A. P. 2006. Evolutionary aspects of diet, the omega-6/omega-3 ratio and genetic variation: Nutritional implications for chronic diseases. Biomedicine & Pharmacotherapy 60(9):502-507.
- WHO (World Health Organization). 2018. Nutrition: Trans fat. WHO website Q&A. Accessed February 2022.