Omega 3 Index & Women.
Although I have previously written about the values of Omega 3 Fatty Acids, this item was prompted by the appearance of 3 new articles that crossed my desk this week.
Omega 3 fatty acids, particularly EPA and DHA are considered essential. Our body doesn't make them but we do need them from our diet. Omega 3 has become very popular among health care professionals and supplement advocates.
The EPA / DHA versions of Omega 3 are “animal” based and required by humans.
The vegetable version, Alpha-linolenic–acid (ALA), has to be converted to EPA / DHA after we eat it.
ALA is found in foods like flax seed and walnut oil. Our conversion rate is very poor - less than 10% range. 1
Low long chain omega-3 fatty acid status in middle-aged women
Gellert, Sandra, et.al. PLEFA Journal , 2017.01.009
The low LC n-3 PUFA status in middle-aged German women (40–60 years) is related to an increased risk of cardiovascular diseases and possibly other diseases and should therefore be improved.
Although the benefits of Omega 3 intake have been well established, a German study reported that 63% of middle aged German women have low omega 3 and show high risk for heart disease.
The study used a measure known as the “Omega 3 Index” which is the % concentration in red blood cells.
- very low = less than 4%
- low = 4 to 6%
- moderate = 6 to 8%
- high = over 8%.
The study focused on 471 women ages 40-60 (from an original cohort study of 2367). The average Omega 3 Index score was 5.49%.
The results showed 97% had scores below the 8% value, 63% were rated as “low” risk (scores between 4 - 6%) and 9% were at the greatest risk with scores below 4%.
Dietary reference intakes (DRI) by several expert scientific organizations fall in the range of 250-500 mg/ day for EPA and DHA. But experienced practitioners recommend twice those levels.
Using the brand I have used for 40 years would mean 6 capsules/day.
It is disturbing that in spite of knowledge and popularity of this nutrient there appears to be wide spread under consumption.
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1. Conversion Efficiency of ALA to DHA in humans. A discussion of the metabolic pathway by which dietary ALA can be converted by a series of sequential desaturation (D) and elongation (E) reactions into EPA and then DHA
2. Two-thirds of middle-aged German women have low omega-3: Increased risk of heart disease - More than 70% of middle-aged women are at an increased risk of heart disease risk because of low omega-3 status, says a new German population study that recommends nearly all should increase intake.