Each day we are bombarded with heaping helpings of health headlines — the latest, must-know, must-do health advice. Sometimes the tips seem obvious; but often, it’s quite difficult to understand what will produce health benefits — especially when headlines and social media can make legitimate advice seem irrelevant in a moment.
Over the years, we’ve seen more conflicting advice around omega-3 fatty acids such as eicosapentaenoic (EPA) and docosahexaenoic (DHA). Thousands of published scientific studies have shown the benefits, and we know that the human body needs them to function but can’t create them on its own. Among their numerous benefits, EPA and DHA have been associated with overall heart health and improving eye, brain and joint performance.
Yet most are confused
Unlike many other important measures of health, most people have no awareness of their omega-3 levels. Omega-3s are found in fatty fish such as salmon, sardines and mackerel. But the reality is many people have difficulty achieving optimal levels with diet alone. And according to one recent study, even among people who believed they were eating a balanced diet, 98 per cent had levels of omega-3s that were below the optimal level.
“I had heard fish oil was critical to a balanced diet,” said Schnelle “Nellie” Acevedo, a fitness blogger and mom of three based in the US. “As an avid runner and working mom, making smart choices about my health is really important to me. As I learned more about omega-3s and their health benefits, I started worrying that I could be omega-3 deficient and wondering what kind of toll that could be taking on my health.”
What we can do
Today, there are resources available to help us get an answer on where our levels stand — the Omega-3 Index test is a simple blood test that unveils what percentage of red blood cells contain EPA and DHA.
There’s also a brief quiz online that provides a general guide for individual omega-3 scores. Answer the five-question quiz at www.knowyouromega3s.com to determine if your levels might be low, and learn helpful tips and actions to ensure you are getting enough omega-3s.
When it comes to health, knowledge is just the first step
Every health journey is unique, so regardless of the latest trend, it’s key to act to determine where you stand and the changes that work for you. Like understanding your cholesterol or blood pressure levels, knowing your omega-3 levels is an important marker of health.
“It’s tough to be sure of your health and fitness choices, but I got an answer when it comes to omega-3s. Last year, I sent in a test to check my omega-3 levels. When I got my results, my numbers were not nearly where I want to be. I needed to supplement my diet to get my numbers up!” said Acevedo. “It’s important for you to know whether or not you are getting enough omega-3s, and what you can do to fix it!”