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Omega-3 Index May Be Good Indicator of Cardiovascular Disease and Premature Death Risk

Omega-3 index is the total of EPA and DHA content of red blood cell membranes. Levels higher than 8% are optimal or low-risk, levels between 4% and 8% are medium risk, and below 4% is high risk. A recent study suggests that omega-3 index may be an indicator of overall risk of cardiovascular disease and premature death.


Participants in the study included 2,500 people who took part in the Framingham Offspring study and had an average age of 66 at the start of the study. None of the participants had cardiovascular disease at the onset of the study. The researchers collected data on 18 demographic factors and cardiovascular disease risk factors at the beginning of the study. They also collected measurements of RBC EPA, DHA, and total cholesterol.


All of the participants were followed for a median of seven years, during which time the researchers recorded total death, cardiovascular disease-related death, cancer, and other death, as well as stroke, cardiovascular disease, and cardiovascular heart disease. They then correlated those incidences against omega-3 index and total cholesterol levels.


After examining the data, the researchers determined that being in the highest quintile of the omega-3 index was associated with a 34% lower risk of death from any cause and a 39% lower risk of cardiovascular disease compared to being in the lowest quintile. They also found that omega-3 index was a better predictor than cholesterol for risk of death and certain measures of cardiovascular disease.


The researchers estimated that consuming an additional 1300 mg/d of omega-3s could raise people from the lowest quintile to the highest. That is equivalent to 100g of farmed salmon daily or four standard fish pills containing 330 mg per day.


Researchers from the University of South Dakota led the study. It was published online ahead of print on February 24, 2018, in the Journal of Clinical Lipidology.


There are two types of omega-3s: DPA and EPA. Omega-3s have been linked to a number of health benefits, including improved mood, improved joint mobility, reducing the risk of age related macular degeneration, and aiding your immune system.


Because omega-3 fatty-acids are not found naturally in the human body, it is especially important to make sure that they are a part of your daily diet. Oily, dark fish such as tuna and salmon are high in omega-3s. For people who don’t like fish, consider taking a daily high quality non-fish supplement that has been tested for purity and potency.

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