Aker BioMarine has launched the Omega-3 Index Project to bring more awareness to the implications of low omega-3 EPA/DHA intake worldwide.
Omega-3 deficiency is fast-becoming a global health concern because it indicates a higher risk of chronic disease (particularly heart disease), cognitive decline and other health problems, according to a new study published in Progress in Lipid Research (May 2016). The issue of low omega-3 intake doesn't discriminate; it affects most developed nations.
The study mapped omega-3 levels across the world. By analysing 298 international studies, and looking at levels of EPA and DHA in the bloodstreams of healthy adults, researchers were able to create a global map identifying countries and regions with different blood levels. With this information, they were able to determine regions at higher risk of chronic illness.
The study showed that North America, Central and South America, Europe (with the exception of Norway), the Middle East, South-East Asia, Africa, Australia and China have the lowest omega-3 levels (<6%). The places with the highest omega-3 levels (>8%) included Norway, Japan and regions where Westernised food habits are not as common.
The amount of omega-3s in the blood can be measured using a nutritional tool called the Omega-3 Index. By recording the percentage concentration of omega-3s EPA and DHA in red blood cells, the Omega-3 Index provides a useful indication of a person's long-term intake of omega-3s. Some health practitioners use the Omega-3 Index test in clinical practice to help manage heart-disease risk for their patients.
The health ramifications of omega-3 insufficiency across the globe plus the billions of dollars accrued in healthcare costs each year are excellent reasons to elicit change and to take action, but consumers need more education before they can act. Specifically, they need to know and understand what their omega-3 level is; how to test their omega-3 level (via the Omega-3 Index test); what their Omega-3 Index level means in terms of long-term health consequences; what omega-3 options are available to help them increase their Omega-3 Index; and how often to test their levels.
Still, raising your Omega-3 Index is easy. Anyone can raise their omega-3 levels by taking simple dietary steps such as consuming foods or supplements rich in omega-3s EPA and DHA. Good sources of these omega-3s include seafood like salmon, or omega-3 supplements such as krill oil and fish oil.
Krill oil in particular is an ideal choice for raising the Omega-3 Index because its omega-3s are mostly bound to phospholipids, which enhance cellular uptake and carry EPA and DHA into the blood quicker and more efficiently.
Aker BioMarine, the leading krill-oil supplier, is taking omega-3 insufficiency very seriously. Most recently, the company, along with other industry partners, launched The Omega-3 Index Project. The goal of this programme is to bring more awareness to the health implications of low omega-3 EPA/DHA intake and offer solutions that will help raise consumers' levels. Measuring the Omega-3 Index regularly will help consumers identify, correct and maintain healthy omega-3 levels.