All About the Omega 3-6 Ratio or Index and Why You Need to Know Yours!

The Omega 3 index (Omega 3 ratio)

The omega-3-6 index is defined as the amount of EPA plus DHA in red blood cell membranes expressed as the percent of total red blood cell membrane fatty acids .

The EPA + DHA content of red blood cell membranes correlates with that of all body cells, and several observational studies indicate that a lower omega-3 index is associated with an increased risk of coronary heart disease mortality.

It is therefore proposed that the omega 3 index can be used as a biomarker for risk assessment for many diseases, among them heart disease, brain diseases like Alzheimers, mental illness, asthma, cancer, Type 2 diabetes, and general health and longevity and it is beneficial for us to know our omega 3 index and to appreciate the many benefits of omega 3 in our food to be able to optimize our health with supplementation, if desired.

Omega 3-and 6- fatty acids together with cholesterol are necessary components of healthy cell membranes throughout your body.

The omega 3 index has also been used to assess your need for supplementation as well as the success of supplementation.

Here is a Sample Test result for you to check out:

Omega 3 test for brain and mental health

You get a multi-page report of the omega-3-6 ratio, the fatty acids composition of your blood and your trans-fat-index.

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The Omega-3/6 Index and Why It Is Beneficial to Know Yours

Omega-3 and omega-6 are two types of essential fatty acids that our bodies need for various functions, such as brain health, inflammation regulation, and cell membrane formation.

However, the balance between these two fatty acids is important, as too much omega-6 and too little omega-3 can have negative effects on our health.

One way to measure the balance of omega-3 and omega-6 in our body is by using the Omega-3/6 Index, which is calculated by dividing the sum of seven omega-6 fatty acids by the sum of four omega-3 fatty acids in whole blood.

Another way is by using the Omega-3 Index, which is a measure of the amount of EPA and DHA (the two most important omega-3 fatty acids) in the red blood cell membranes .

Both indexes are expressed as percentages, and higher values indicate higher levels of omega-3 relative to omega-6. According to research, an Omega-3/6 Index of around 1:1 or lower is optimal, while an Omega-3 Index of 8% or higher is ideal .

However, most people in modern societies have much higher ratios of omega-6 to omega-3, and lower percentages of EPA and DHA in their blood, due to dietary and lifestyle factors.

Knowing your Omega-3/6 Index and Omega-3 Index can help you assess your risk of developing chronic diseases, such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, Alzheimer's disease, and depression, that are associated with low levels of omega-3 and high levels of omega-6 .

By taking a simple blood test, you can find out your indexes and take steps to improve them if needed.

Some of the ways to improve your Omega-3/6 Index and Omega-3 Index are:

  • Eating more foods that are rich in EPA and DHA, such as cold-water fish (salmon, sardines, mackerel), grass-fed meats, and eggs.
  • Taking reputable fish oil supplements that provide concentrated amounts of EPA and DHA.
  • Eating less foods that are high in omega-6 fatty acids, such as vegetable oils (soybean, corn, safflower), processed foods, and fried foods.
  • Eating more foods that contain alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), the parent fatty acid of the omega-3 series, such as flaxseeds, chia seeds, walnuts, and dark leafy greens.

However, keep in mind that the conversion of ALA to EPA and DHA is inefficient in humans, so it is not a substitute for EPA and DHA intake.

By knowing your Omega-3/6 Index and Omega-3 Index and taking action to optimize them, you can benefit your health in many ways.

Omega-3 fatty acids can support your brain function, mood, memory, vision, immune system, heart health, blood pressure, blood sugar, inflammation response, and more . Therefore, it is beneficial to know your indexes and aim for the optimal ranges.

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