This month we are focusing on the importance of Omega 3 for our overall health and wellbeing. Omega 3 is one of those nutrients that really is so important for our whole body functioning. Now, if you’re new to Omega 3, I recommend you jump over and read our blog from earlier this month – The Benefits of Fish Oil. In this blog we discuss the importance of Omega 3, along with factors affecting our individual need for essential fatty acids and common misconceptions about fish oil.
Did you know 4 out of 5 Australians are not meeting their Omega 3 requirements? That’s 80% of people! Supplementing fish oil as a general rule is a great idea, however rather than guessing your individual requirements there is a way to find out your very specific needs for Omega 3 and it’s as simple as a finger prick test!
Our team put it to the test!
The small drop of blood taken from a finger prick test can tell us so much about your Omega 3 status. The test itself measures the total fatty acids in your red blood cell membranes and then looks at the percentage of EPA and DHA (omega 3 fatty acids). This snapshot is reflective of the last three to four months, or the life of a red blood cell. Ideally this percentage of EPA and DHA should sit between 8-12%.
Now you may be thinking, that’s a pretty low percentage, seems easy to achieve! That’s where you’re wrong. The team here at Mullen Health are a pretty healthy bunch, you just need to visit us during lunch time to smell the delicious aromas seeping out of the clinic kitchen or visit our social media pages to see the colourful and diverse creations we’ve thrown together. Lunch time for us always involves a discussion about what we’re eating and often recipes and ideas are swapped amongst us. So, we thought we’d put the Omega 3 Index to the test and see how healthy we all really are and well, we were shocked. Some results were very, very, low, much lower than we anticipated. Others were reasonable but not ideal, sitting below the reference range even though the owners of these results ate Omega 3 rich fish regularly. But the most shocking result was from our Naturopath Yvonne, and not because it was a bad result. It was actually the best, by far! You see Yvonne had completed the Omega 3 Index a year earlier, which gave us great insight into the validity and accuracy of this test. Yvonne eats a lot of fish, every single day, without fail at least one meal a day, contains fish. At the time of testing in 2020, Yvonne was eating fish every day PLUS taking a quality Omega 3 supplement and her results were an admirable 10.66%. Fast forward a year and Yvonne’s diet remained the same, still fish heavy, but she had stopped taking her fish oil supplement, knowing that her levels were really good. The latest test showed that she had dropped to 8%, whilst still within range it did highlight to us as a team that her diet alone was not able to sustain her individual Omega 3 requirements.
In an ideal world we would be able to meet our daily Omega 3 requirements simply through the food we eat, sadly this isn’t the case. We’re all unique, we all live in a modern environment that places an unnecessary toxic burden on us and we’re all subject to different factors that determine how much Omega 3 we need to function optimally. What this exercise taught us here at the clinic, is that even the healthiest bunch, with access to current evidence-based nutritional information can still benefit from a little helping hand by way of supplementation and that there is no one size fits all approach to treatment. We’re all individuals and we all require our own personalised approach to healthcare. It also showed that every single one of us could benefit from some fish oil to improve our Omega 3 levels!
Why test Omega 3?
Omega 3 is crucial for overall health, ageing and longevity. In a nutshell it is imperative to have optimal Omega 3 levels for a long, happy and healthy life. Here’s some more reasons why Omega 3 is so important:
- Crucial for brain health to support brain function, cognition and memory
- Potent anti-inflammatory; reduces oxidative stress and improves cellular function through gene expression
- Improve cardiovascular health through anti-inflammatory properties
- Important for foetal development during pregnancy and has been linked to a decrease in immune response in infants, particularly relating to allergies
- Reduce joint pain and stiffness in inflammatory conditions such as Rheumatoid Arthritis and Osteoarthritis
- Enhances visual development and eye health
What else does the Omega 3 Index test?
We love the Omega 3 Index test because not only does it look at your level of EPA and DHA in your blood cells, but it also looks at your entire fatty acid profile. This means it looks at the good fatty acids, but also the not so good ones.
- Omega 6: Omega 3 ratio – the ideal ratio is 3:1 to 5:1; however due to the industrialisation of food increasing our consumption of Omega 6 (plant oils) the delicate balance has been tipped to be closer to 10:1 to 20:1. Promoting inflammation and prevalence of chronic disease
- AA:EPA ratio – arachidonic acid (an Omega 6) to eicosapentaenoic acid (an Omega 3) ratio is helpful because both fatty acids have the ability to cause a lot of changes in the body. Different levels of these fatty acids can affect processes that impact inflammation and overall health
- Trans fat index – trans fats are found in hydrogenated oils (usually found in processed foods) and some meat and dairy products. Ideally, we want this number to be below 1% as trans fats are associated with poor outcomes and heart disease
- Individual fatty acid level – This is a complete breakdown of 24 individual fatty acids in your blood. This marker gives great insight into diet and health
Think you could benefit from testing your Omega 3 Index? Curious about your fatty acid profile? Phone us on 02 4961 4075 and book an appointment for the Omega 3 Index. This simple test will give you great insight into your overall health and help us tailor your treatment to your specific needs!