Medical Professional to Medical Professional – Get Your Omega-3 Levels Tested
Michael F. Roizen, MD
I write this article from a medical caregiver to fellow medical caregiver. Although I run ideas like this by my colleagues in the Wellness Institute at the Cleveland Clinic, I know we are parochial in our thought processes and need the wider vetting you afford.
I want to share an omega-3 test I recently had the chance to experience. This comes on the heels of a new study published in the Mayo Clinic Proceedings.
A recent meta-analysis published in the Mayo Clinic Proceedings found that an increased amount of EPA and DHA from diet and/or from supplements decreased cardiovascular events by about 18 percent (5, 6). Even more impressive is when you look at the data based on the level of omega-3s in red blood cell membrane (RBC membrane), called an omega-3 index. An index above 8 percent was associated with greater than a 75 percent reduction in cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk compared to an index of less than 4 percent (a higher index means more omega-3s in your red cells—see figure1).
Even better, like your patients’ blood pressures or blood sugars, you can now easily measure your patients’ omega-3 index reliably (11).
It comes as no surprise, that a decade worth of research has shown that omega-3s and specifically, DHA, support brain health. In fact, one study showed that DHA at 900mg a day supports memory (2).
So, to help support the health of your brain and heart, I suggest taking the Omega-3 Index text and educating your patients about the Index.
Omega-3 Index Test Kit
I was given an Omega-3 Index test kit (produced by OmegaQuant) because I am a member of the NUTRI-FACTS editorial board, which I’m a paid member. We know EPA and DHA omega-3s have been shown to support healthy triglyceride (TG) levels, so those patients who have high TG levels with a high risk of CV events might get the therapeutic level of 2 to 4 grams per day, at least until their TG levels fall to an acceptable level, and their omega-3 index rise to an acceptable level. The full algorithm is at the website http://knowyouro.com, under the “Get Resources” tab.
I decided it was important to measure my omega-3 index even though I eat two to three servings of salmon a week and take 600 mg of DHA omega-3 supplements a day. You and your patients will be able to receive their results in a few days by mail. The test is easy and involves a simple pinprick of your finger with a drop of blood placed on a special piece of blotter paper that is then submitted by mail.
Despite my habit of eating salmon twice a week and the supplementing responsibly, my level was just short of optimal at 7.98 percent. But I always strive to achieve the optimal level – a level a percent or two above 8 percent. I plan to increase my omega-3 supplement intake a little to 800 mg a day, and do another measurement in three to four months.
Please write to me (firstname.lastname@example.org) to share your feedback – I’m curious to learn where your body lands on the omega-3 index.
1. Omega-3s are a healthy choice to reduce CV disease in analyses of all studies of omega-3’s just published in the Mayo Clinic Proceedings and in my opinion;
2. To make sure you get an appropriate amount in your diet and/or from supplement, get the simple the Omega-3 Index test kit.
3. Learn more by accessing the resource guide “Doctor Decision Tree” at www.KnowYourO.com as a starting point for omega-3 intake recommendations for your patients, at least until you measure their Omega-3 Index and TGs. I aim for more than 8 percent and less than 100 – just as I suggest to my patients.
Thanks for reading.
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