Omega-3 fatty acids are pretty amazing! I have talked about whether they are in fact magical!
It seems that wherever you turn there is more and more positive research emerging about the role of omega-3s in so many aspects of our health.
Now that The Dietologist offers Basic Omega-3 Index Test Kit from OmegaQuant, I thought I could take you through some of the reasons you might like to consider testing your omega-3 status to see how your numbers stack up.
Before we dive in, according to OmegaQuant the ideal range of omega-3s in our red blood cells, which is what the test looks at, is 8-12%. From the OmegaQuant data, the average Australian is sitting somewhere between 4-6%!
There’s a lot of non-evidence based nutrition testing out there, however, I did my research into these tests! Their facilities are leaders in fatty acid research and test samples for hundreds of research studies. Their methods are standardized and validated meaning they are actually representative of what is truly happening in the body – which is important!
Why are omega-3s important again?
People with higher omega-3 fatty acid levels in their blood tend to:
- Have better heart health and cholesterol profiles with omega-3 indexes over 8% (Harris et al., 2017).
- In post-menopausal women, they were more likely to live longer (Harris et al., 2017)
- Live longer (Pottala et al., 2010)
- Have better cognitive function, even in young people (Bauer et al., 2014)
What about omega-3s for women’s health, fertility and pregnancy?
- In pregnancy, improved omega-3 fatty acid status can reduce the risk of early labour and preterm delivery (Olsen et al., 2018 and Kar, et al., 2016). It is also critical in the development of the brain and eyes of your growing baby (Coletta et al., 2010).
- For fertility, some animal studies are suggesting more omega-3s are associated with better egg health (Nehra et al., 2012). As well as improved fish intake has been associated with less time to pregnancy (Gaskins et al., 2018).
- For endometriosis, some mice studies have suggested that supplementing with fish oil can reduce endometriosis growing (Herington et al., 2013). Studies in humans have yet to show the exact same effects (Khanaki et al., 2012).
- For PCOS, a systematic review (top quality evidence) showed that omega-3 fatty acids may be recommended for women with PCOS with insulin resistance, as well as those who also have high cholesterol and triglyceride levels in the blood (Yang et al., 2018).
- For sperm health, some research suggests that men with idiopathic male infertility may benefit from omega-3 fatty acid supplementation (Safarinejad & Safarinejad, 2012)
- For menopause, some evidence suggests the benefit of omega-3s in managing hot flashes, depressive and cognitive symptoms related to the transition of menopause. However, this research is not yet conclusive (Ciappolino, et al., 2018).
So here are the top reasons why you should consider an omega-3 test…
1. You don’t eat oily fish!
Oily fish like salmon, mackerel, trout, sardines, anchovies and the like are your best source of these important long-chain omega-3 fatty acids which protect our heart, eyes and brain!
If you don’t like fish or choose not to eat it due to a vegetarian or vegan or plant-based diet, then it might be a good idea to see how much is doing the work in your bloodstream.
2. You have high cholesterol or a family history of heart conditions
Did you know that omega-3 fatty acids can help improve your healthy cholesterol, known as HDL- cholesterol?
About 6% of Australians in 2017-18 had high cholesterol, which is over 1 million Aussies! (ABS, 2017-18). Having high cholesterol can increase the risk of heart disease and stroke which affects another 1 million Australians (ABS, 2017-18).
Whilst we cannot change our genetics or family history of high cholesterol or heart conditions, we can modify our diet, lifestyle, alcohol intake and smoking habits to reduce the risk of heart health conditions for ourselves. Especially, during pregnancy where a family history of heart health conditions and high blood pressure can increase your risk of high blood pressure during your pregnancy (Ness et al., 2003).
3. You’re planning to conceive soon
I may be a little bias, but there is no better time to be doing a bit of a lifestyle check-up then when you’re thinking about growing your family.
This is the perfect time to get a check-up with your doctor and make sure everything is looking good, book in with a pre-conception dietitian to ensure you’re getting all the essential nutrients you need for optimal fertility and healthy pregnancy.
Omega-3 fatty acids are an important component of the Mediterranean diet which has been shown to be effective in improving sperm health in men and fertility outcomes in IVF according to the latest research.
There’s also been some suggestion that omega-3 fatty acids may also play a role in egg quality, you can read more about that on my blog post about what to eat for egg health.
4. You’re pregnant or breastfeeding
In pregnancy, you require 300 mg of DHA omega-3 fatty acids, which is one of the types of omega-3s found in marine fish to help support baby’s developing brain and eye health. EPA, the other kind of omega-3 fatty acid found in fish, is also important too!
Similarly, in breastfeeding, your baby is relying on the omega-3 fats you are having in your day-to-day diet to be providing this all-important fatty acid via the breastmilk. The American Pregnancy Association recommends omega-3 supplementation before, during and after pregnancy whilst breastfeeding (American Pregnancy Association).
Finding out how you stack up before or during pregnancy using the basic or prenatal test kit can help you customise your diet and supplementation plan to keep you in the ideal range. And with OmegaQuant you can even test the omega-3 content of your breastmilk!
5. You just want to know your numbers!
If you’re curious, like me, sometimes you just want to know more information and collect more data about your own health!
Whether it’s just for your general health and wellbeing, you have a family history of a condition which has modifiable lifestyle risk factors such as heart disease or a cognitive condition and you’d like to get on top of your omega-3 status earlier in life – then this test may be useful for you!
Please note: this post is NOT sponsored by OmegaQuant.
Disclaimer: Please do not start any kind of supplement without prior advice from your medical health care professional.
Interested in finding out your numbers with an omega-3 test kit? Get in touch with me at [email protected] for more information and to get your hands on a kit for yourself!
You’re just one fingerprick away from knowing your omega-3 status!