What is an Omega-3 Index?
The Omega-3 Index is a measurement of how much DHA and EPA is present in the membranes of erythrocytes, red blood cells, and represented as a percentage of total fatty acids found in those cells. While there is no definitive “normal” value established for the Omega-3 Index, there are many studies that correlate risk of some conditions with Omega-3 Index results. For example, the higher the Omega-3 Index, the less risk for certain conditions such as death from heart disease, eye problems, and dementia. Directly measuring Omega-3 fatty acids in the blood has been found to be less reliable as recent foods ingested can greatly influence those numbers and they may not reflect overall levels in the body. Measuring the amount of DHA and EPA in the membranes of red blood cells may be a better way of assessing tissue levels of these essential fatty acids. This concept is very similar to the test known as HbA1c where measuring the glucose attached to red blood cell membranes is a better representation of long term sugar control than a random blood draw.