My experience with the omega-3 index

I just got back my own results from the Gene Smart laboratory reporting my omega-3 index and omega-6:omega-3 ratio.

My results:

Omega-3 index: 8.2%

Omega-6:omega-3 index: 3.2 to 1

Not too bad, but not as good as I'd expected. Hmmm.

Although the omega-3 index of 8.2% puts me in the lower risk category for sudden cardiac death, I was hoping for a level of 10% or slightly greater, the level that I believe is more likely to be related to plaque inactivation or reversal. I obtained this level of omega-3 averaging an intake of EPA and DHA of about 2500 mg per day.

I was somewhat disappointed by the omega-6:omega-3 index. Although it's clearly better than the American average range of 20:1, it is short of the ideal of 2:1 or even 1:1. Since I purposely avoid omega-6-rich sources like corn oil, vegetable oils, sunflower or safflower oils, I wonder if I've overdone the nuts. The two ways to improve the omega-6:omega-3 ratio are to 1) decrease omega-6, or 2) increase omega-3. I'm going to do both.

So I thought I was doing pretty well. But there's clearly room for improvement.

Remember: If just reduction of cardiovascular risk is your interest, then a lackadaisical attitude towards these issues might work. But if your interest is elimination of risk and reversal of atherosclerotic plaque, then it pays to go the extra mile. In this case, knowing your omega-3 index and omega-6:omega-3 ratio might tighten up your program.

Comments (23) -

  • Stephan Guyenet

    10/8/2009 10:28:18 PM |

    Hi Dr. Davis,

    Adipose tissue also stores a lot of LA (proportional to long-term diet) and that will influence blood lipids.  The half-life of adipose LA is about 2 years, so changing that contribution is a long-term process.

  • William Trumbower

    10/9/2009 12:13:12 AM |

    I used the omega profile thru  My AA/EPA ratio was 1.39 on 7.5gm EPA+DHA (1 TBS EicoRx)daily  This dose also cured my asthma and almost eliminated my seasonal allergies.  EicoRx has GLA added, which pushes eicosanoid synthesis more toward the "Good Side".  One of the best basic fish oils is available thru the life extension foundation.  It is 60% pure (600mg EPA+DHA per 1000mg capsule) and contains sesame lignans and olive extract.  It is certified thru IFOS.  I got it on sale for under $10 for a bottle of 120!

  • karl

    10/9/2009 3:45:21 AM |

    I wonder if taking 6G of EPA+DHA/day - split as three separate dosages has any advantage over a single dose?

  • Dr. B G

    10/9/2009 3:57:37 AM |

    Dr. Davis!

    I like your n=1 experiment!

    Thank you for sharing your results. In all honesty, I think your Japanese blood demands more omega-3's.  That might in fact be genetic!!

  • Dr. B G

    10/9/2009 3:57:37 AM |

    Dr. Davis!

    I like your n=1 experiment!

    Thank you for sharing your results. In all honesty, I think your Japanese blood demands more omega-3's.  That might in fact be genetic!!

  • Anonymous

    10/9/2009 4:30:18 AM |

    What about the studies that Harvard's nutrition webpage cites that omega-3 and omega-6 were both beneficial and that they are not competition with each other?

    The studies have citation numbers of 4 and 5 but i'll link them here anyway

    "Adequate intakes of both n-6 and n-3 fatty acids are essential for good health and low rates of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes, but the ratio of these fatty acids is not useful. Reductions of linoleic acid to "improve" this ratio would likely increase rates of cardiovascular disease and diabetes."

    "n-3 PUFAs from both seafood and plant sources may reduce CHD risk, with little apparent influence from background n-6 PUFA intake."

  • Nameless

    10/9/2009 5:04:21 AM |

    I wonder if there are any other commercial labs doing Omega3/6 testing? Ideally, I'd like to get it a regular lab, through insurance, as I see enough doctors that I can get one to write a script.

    Any concerns about GeneSmart also selling Omega 3 supplements? It seems like a conflict of interest to me somehow. I would look at a VAP test differently if the same company sold statins direct to the consumer, for instance.

  • Jim Purdy

    10/9/2009 7:29:28 AM |

    Aw, shucks! Since dark chocolate is supposed to have good antioxidants, and nuts are supposed to have good fats, I thought that peanut or almond M&Ms would be the perfect health food.

  • Anonymous

    10/9/2009 12:32:33 PM |

    I'm currently taking 3600 mg EPA-DHA in 5 gels of PurPride fish oil at $.04 per gel...while equiv LEF fish oil would be 3 at $.17 per.

    I'm sure the LEF quality is better.

    Was wondering if 5 gels (3600 mg) was too much...looks like it might not be.

  • Roman

    10/9/2009 4:31:49 PM |

    Omega6s are one of the reasons I cut back on most nuts. Walnuts are the worst. The lowest amounts of omega6s are in macadamia nuts, so I still eat few of those. For this same reason I rarely eat avocados any more - they were throwing off my omega6/omega3 balance way too much, despite all the fish and supplements. Compared to most nuts and avocadoes even grain-fed beef is pretty benign from omega6 point of view.

  • PacRim Jim

    10/9/2009 4:54:06 PM |

    I wonder if any progress is being made in evaluating each person as a unique system. The same levels for everyone may not be appropriate.

  • Dave in Ohio

    10/10/2009 10:05:33 AM |

    I don't know how many nuts you're eating a week Doc, but 8 oz. of mixed nuts has about 25 g. 18:2 n-6 (LA).  Most nuts are high in LA, except for macadamia nuts.  Walnuts are the highest, with 38 g. LA per 100 g. of nuts.  Pecans are next at 20, peanuts at 15, almonds and pistachios at about 13.5, and cashews at 8.5. Macadamias have only 1.3 g. LA per 100 g. of nuts.

  • Anonymous

    10/10/2009 5:01:40 PM |


    I just purchased the omega 3/omega 3/6 ration test -

    what does the omega ratio test cover? The ratio in tissue? Blood? My understanding is that the ratio in tissue is what is the best identifier, but I believe it says that blood is tested?


  • Anonymous

    10/10/2009 5:26:45 PM |

    All the evidence suggests that dietary linoleic acid (plant-based omega 6) is perfectly healthy - it's the dietary arachidinoic acid (animal-based omega 6) that's problematic.

  • Dr. William Davis

    10/11/2009 12:09:36 AM |

    Omega-6 intake seems to be a tripping point. We'll discuss that in a future post.

  • Rick

    10/11/2009 9:25:18 AM |

    Dr Davis,
    If we order test kits from overseas, even if the kit arrives OK I'm worried about customs problems when sending back my own blood in order to get the results. Any idea how likely this is to be a problem?

  • Dr. William Davis

    10/11/2009 11:52:43 PM |

    Hi, Rick--

    To my knowledge, there should be no problem with international orders.

  • Anonymous

    10/12/2009 10:37:04 AM |

    I remember one of the marketing points made by krill sellers is that krill EPA/ DHA is absorbed better into the cell membrane verses regular fish oil.  It would be interesting to see if that is true.

  • Nameless

    10/13/2009 4:41:12 PM |

    Interesting comment about the krill, although to do a fair comparison the Omega 3 intakes would need to be equal (or in the same ballpark) for both fish and krill.

    To get to 1-2 grams of Omega 3s/daily from krill, it'd probably bankrupt you.

    I think krill may do a better job than fish oil as to  reducing c-reactive protein and probably does absorb better. But it's not so cost effective at large doses.

  • Sue

    10/14/2009 10:14:29 AM |

    Are you a vegetarian?  I think I read somewhere you don't like meat.  Perhaps this is contributing to your omega 3 index.

  • MarciaBrady

    10/15/2009 6:21:39 PM |

    Hi.  I just recently saw something on WebMD that said Fish Oil has been shown to worsen your risk of heart disease.  What do you think about that?

  • Anonymous

    10/15/2009 6:23:39 PM |

    I previously posted that I was taking 3600 mg O3s...when it is actually 1500 mgs...
    will be increasing to around 2900 mgs.

    Do have a question as far as the interaction of a pomegranate extract which I take...where this is also supposed to help clear plaque...any such thing as too much arterial clearing?

  • Rhino

    2/1/2011 2:01:53 PM |

    These companies that sell supplements and omega 3 index tests dont do the analysis.  
    The lab that created the Index, OmegaQuant, does the lab work and is blinded to patient information.