Personalized nutrition is a popular buzz phrase in the health and wellness industry, especially with supplements. Instead of a one-size-fits-all option, consumers can choose from products and tools that are tailor-made to their needs and preferences.
Even someone who eats well, exercises regularly, maintains a healthy weight and doesn’t smoke, might not be spared from chronic disease. It has been suggested that more specific nutritional markers are needed to improve predictions about a person’s health status, particularly with regard to individual levels of omega-3s.
However, it turns out that awareness of the health benefits associated with omega-3 intake might not be enough to induce a change in dietary patterns. A recent study published in Nutrients compared data from the United States and Germany, and concluded that despite adequate knowledge of the health benefits and food sources of omega-3s, a staggering 98 percent of the participants fell below the optimal range (2017 Aug 24;9(9)). So, it is crucial that the industry provides individuals with concrete tools and additional motivation to make the necessary dietary changes.
The Omega-3 Index Test, a nutritional measurement tool that reports the amount of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) in red blood cell membranes as a percentage of total fatty acids, is a practical and valid biomarker of omega-3 status. Published research on the relationship between health outcomes and omega-3 status employs the Omega-3 Index as a primary measure. Strong evidence suggests an index above 8 percent is related to better general health. For example, a recent study of more than 27,000 individuals found an Omega-3 Index above 8 percent was associated with a 35 percent risk reduction of fatal coronary heart disease (CHD) relative to individuals with an Omega-3 Index below 4 percent (Atherosclerosis. 2017 Jul;262:51-54). This is particularly unsettling given 90 percent of the U.S. population is below 4 percent, with several other regions in the world also showing deficiencies.
Learn more about the Omega-3 Index test and other personalized nutrition initiatives in INSIDER’s Personalized Nutrition Digital Magazine.
Andreas Berg Storsve, Ph.D., director of research and development (R&D), Aker BioMarine, received his doctoral degree from the University of Oslo, and is a former Fulbright scholar at the Athinoula A. Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging, Massachusetts General Hospital/Harvard Medical School.