This new paper by Stark et al. attempted to estimate worldwide omega-3 status by extrapolation from published data derived from multiple sample types. Different studies have used different specimens (plasma, serum, whole blood, red blood cells, etc) and/or measured different fatty acids (e.g., EPA+DHA+DPA) to define “omega-3 status.” This makes combining and comparing data from a bunch of studies difficult when the metric is different. To remedy this problem, the authors stated, “In order to compare the omega-3 PUFA status across the globe, EPA+DHA in erythrocytes [the Omega-3 Index] was selected over other omega-3 PUFA blood biomarkers, as it has been well defined in the literature previously.” This essentially identifies the Omega-3 Index as THE biomarker of choice for defining omega-3 status.
As shown in the map, the countries with the highest Omega-3 Index values were those in Scandinavia, the Sea of Japan and areas where indigenous people do not eat a Western diet. The areas with the lowest Omega-3 Index values were North and South America, parts of the Middle East and India. Considering the traditional diets of these countries, the Omega-3 Index values match what we would expect to see.
This new study represents a major step forward in the effort to create a consensus around one biomarker that all researchers should use to define omega-3 status in their studies – the Omega-3 Index. As we at OmegaQuant Analytics have long championed, this test provides the simplest, most easily interpreted and most readily improved of all the potential omega-3 test metrics. This will also accelerate the introduction into clinical medicine of the Omega-3 Index as the biomarker of choice in patient care.