Much of the world’s population exhibits low blood levels of the omega-3s EPA and DHA, according to a study published in the May 2016 issue of Progress in Lipid Research.
Omega-3 deficiency is associated with several major chronic disorders. The study’s mapping of countries and regions reinforces growing concern that low omega-3 status is a global public health problem.
Another 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-3, 98 percent of the participants fell below the optimal range.
Read more: Do you get enough omega-3s from your diet?
Given these findings, it has been suggested that low omega-3 status is as much a public health issue as vitamin D deficiency, and that it is imperative to get these nutrients into the hands of as many people as possible.
There is of course a variety of ways to do this. The first is to engage government authorities to get them to change health policies so that these omega-3s – specifically EPA and DHA – become as accessible as possible to as many people as possible, whether through food fortification or other means.
Another way of elevating the importance of these nutrients is to get health authorities to make recommendations on their daily intake to the public. And yet another way to get the word out on the importance of these omega-3s is to engage doctors and other key opinion leaders to communicate to consumers about the importance of knowing what their omega-3 EPA/DHA level is by using a nutritional tool called the Omega-3 Index Test.
A window into state of health
The Omega-3 Index Test is a blood test that measures the amount of EPA and DHA in the red blood cells. A low Omega-3 Index correlates with a higher risk of cardiac death, while a high O3i is ideal for maintaining a healthy heart.
Unfortunately, most people globally have a low or very low O3i, which can significantly increase their risk of cardiac death. Regions with these low levels include but are not limited to North America, Central and South America, Europe, the Middle East, Southeast Asia, Africa, Australia and China.
Read more: How to choose the right omega-3s?
Invented by Dr. Harris and Dr. Clemens von Schacky, the Omega-3 Index was brought to life a little more than a decade ago when they discovered not only that these nutrients could be measured in the blood, but that the actual O3i level correlated directly with the risk of not only cardiac death but death from any cause. Between these two internationally recognized experts, they have published more than 250 scientific papers on Omega-3 Index.
Addressing a public health issue
We at Aker BioMarine decided to form The O3i Project with several industry partners, such as companies, associations, and non-profits to bring more awareness to the ramifications of having low omega-3 levels – an issue that doesn’t discriminate, is globally relevant, and costs healthcare systems around the world billions of dollars.
According to Dr. Bill Harris, an internationally recognized omega-3 expert, co-inventor of the Omega-3 Index Test and President of OmegaQuant Analytics, who is also an active member of the O3i Project, the O3i has been identified as a bona fide risk factor for heart disease, with several peer reviewed papers to support it. But it doesn’t stop there. As Dr. Harris puts it, the health implications of low omega-3 status include higher rates of other chronic diseases such as dementia, various eye diseases and more.
We at Aker BioMarine believe anyone selling omega-3s has an obligation to address this public health issue and help do something about it.
The ultimate goal of The O3i Project is to get its partners to communicate through their channels about the importance of the O3i. In most cases, once consumers know their O3i they are motivated to act.
At this stage, our goal is to connect the O3i test with krill oil specifically as a legitimate EPA/DHA omega-3 option because we know through clinical study that it has been shown to raise the O3i.