How to interpret your Omega results, common questions, and next steps to take

Omega-3s play an important role in cardiovascular, reproductive, cognitive, and emotional health, and are linked to improved mortality and healthier aging. The Omega-3 Index is a measure of the amount of the omega-3 fatty acids eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) in red blood cell (RBC) membranes. The result is expressed as a percent of total RBC fatty acids and is a long-term and stable marker of omega-3 status throughout the blood and tissues. The target recommended by experts is a minimum of 8%.

The AA:EPA and Omega-6:Omega-3 Ratios provide additional information about your balance of omega-6 fatty acids to omega-3s. The AA:EPA Ratio test measures the ratio of the amount of the omega-6 fatty acid arachidonic acid (AA) and the omega-3 fatty acid eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) in the cells. This test can be an indication of the amount of cellular inflammation in the body, since AA is pro-inflammatory and EPA is anti-inflammatory. The Omega-6:Omega-3 Ratio is calculated by dividing the sum of seven omega-6 fatty acids by the sum of four omega-3 fatty acids, and is another way to measure the balance of fats in the body. This ratio is also a more general measurement of overall status of omega fatty acids and can be used as another marker of inflammation.

How to read your results

You can access your omega results by clicking on the tabs at the top of your “my Test Results” page.

Your latest Omega-3 Index result is located within the circle on the top left side of the Omega-3 Index results page. Next to that is a chart displaying each of your Omega-3 Index results over time.

NOTE: The images below are for demonstration only and do not reflect your personal results.

Below this you will find a table of your latest and your past Omega-3 Index results. Your latest result will be at the top.

To view your omega ratio results, click on the corresponding tab, “Omega Ratio” and “AA:EPA Ratio.”

The ratio result pages will look as follows, with your current values indicated in the graph on the left, and all results plotted by time in the chart on the right.

NOTE: The image below is for demonstration only and does not reflect your personal results.

What Omega-3 Index do you want to aim for?

The optimal range for the Omega-3 Index is suggested to be 8% or more. Less than 4% is undesirable, and 4-8% is in the intermediate risk zone. The majority of the US and Canadian populations are around 4%, while Japanese are typically above 8% due to the amount of fresh fish in their daily diet.

While the Omega-3 Index is often considered the most important measure for omega-3 status, it is also useful to know your status of other omega fatty acids with the AA:EPA ratio and the Omega-6:Omega-3 ratio, which you can choose to add to your recent Omega-3 Index result for an additional fee.

Contact [email protected] if interested in adding these ratios to your recent results.

Are you below the target Omega-3 Index?

If your Omega-3 Index is below your target, you will need to increase your intake of EPA and DHA. The Omega-3 Calculator can help you determine the intake needed to reach your target.

Use the Omega-3 Index Calculator here
Learn more about how to determine what dose of omega-3 supplements can help you reach your target here

What AA:EPA Ratio do you want to aim for?

While the optimal range for health has not been established, the general target range for the AA:EPA ratio has been defined as 2.5 to 11.

Some experts consider an AA:EPA ratio of 1.5 to 3 to be low risk, 3 to 6 to be moderate risk, 7-15 to be elevated risk, and above 15 to be high risk. Evidence suggests that lower ratios are better for health. While a lower ratio of each correlates with a higher Omega-3 Index, it is possible to have an Omega-3 Index within a healthy range (8% or greater) but have one or both of these ratios higher than desirable.

Knowing your ratios can help you take more specific steps to achieve an ideal ratio status, mainly by increasing omega-3 intake with supplements and food (fatty fish) while also decreasing omega-6 intake. Doing this may not only improve your AA:EPA and Omega-6:Omega-3 Ratios, but it will likely also improve your Omega-3 Index.

What Omega-6:Omega-3 Ratio do you want to aim for?

The desirable range for the Omega-6:Omega-3 Ratio is 3:1 to 5:1, which was derived from thousands of individuals whose RBC samples were analyzed for the Omega-3 Index and for this ratio.

The best way to lower the Omega-6:Omega-3 Ratio is to consume more omega-3 fatty acids. Raising your intake of EPA+DHA from seafoods and/or omega-3 supplements will help to decrease this ratio (and raise your Omega-3 Index). It will take 3-4 months for the ratio to respond to new intakes.

Are your ratios higher than you would like them to be?

If the ratios above are higher than you want them to be, it is important to decrease your omega-6 intake while also increasing your omega-3 intake. Omega-6 fats are found in large amounts in refined vegetable oils, many processed foods, and foods cooked in vegetable oils which are abundant in the Western diet. Nuts, seeds, meat and dairy also contain omega-6 fatty acids.

Learn more about the difference between omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids and how each is important for your health here.

What is the relationship between the Omega-3 Index and Omega-6 to Omega-3 & AA to EPA Ratios?

See how levels of each relate among GrassrootsHealth participants here.

DHA vs EPA – is there a difference in what to take and why?

Research is now showing evidence that both DHA and EPA have unique benefits to our health. Decide if you prefer more of one or the other for your own health benefits – learn more here.

How do you choose the best omega-3 supplement for you?

Unfortunately, most omega-3 supplements do not provide enough EPA and DHA for what the majority of individuals need in order to achieve and maintain a minimal target Omega-3 Index of 8%. Before purchasing your supplements, make sure you know how to read omega-3 supplement labels so that you are getting the amount of DHA and EPA you are aiming for, or as suggested by the calculator. Learn more here.

Interested in other forms of omega-3 fatty acids, such as krill or algal? See how the dose-response is just a bit different for each of these types of omega-3 supplements here.

Not all supplements are created equally… how do you know that what you are buying is of good quality? Learn more here.

EPA and DHA from fish oils can be very vulnerable to oxidation, which can have negative effects on health. Learn tips to help prevent oxidation in your fish oil supplements here.

Check out a few high-quality supplement options from our Trusted Brands here.

Is your Omega-3 Index not increasing with increased doses of fish oils?

The type of fish oil supplement you are taking may be the culprit! Learn what form of fish oil is best for absorption, and what to look for in your supplement here.

Should you be decreasing your omega-6 intake while also increasing omega-3 intake?

Excess omega-6 intake can contribute to chronic inflammation or an Omega-3 Index that does not increase as expected – learn more about how to address both here.

Contact [email protected] if interested in adding the AA:EPA and Omega-6:Omega-3 Ratios to your recent results for additional insight on your omega-6 status.

Can you achieve an Omega-3 Index of 8% through diet alone?

Are supplements or food sources of omega-3s best for you to raise your levels? Learn more here.

Does all seafood provide the same amount of omega-3s? Learn more here.

How long should you wait to re-test your level?

It takes approximately 2-3 months for the Omega-3 Index to fully adjust to a change in dose of EPA and DHA, and approximately 3-4 months for the omega ratios to fully adjust to a change in diet and supplement intake.

What are Omega-3 Index levels of other participants?

Among the 4,972 participants who had tested their Omega-3 Index (as of December 2023), the average of their most recent test was 6.2%. Almost one-fifth (19%) of participants had an Omega-3 Index of 8% or higher, leaving over 80% of participants below the target index of 8%. Of those, 27% had an index between 6.0% and 7.9%, 43% had an index between 4.0% and 5.9%, and 11% had an index less than 4%. This distribution of results is very similar to that of our previous analysis, completed in July of 2020.

In addition, the average Omega-3 Index of the 2,025 participants who had tested more than once was 6.7%, almost a whole percent higher than the average index of 5.8% among the 2,948 participants who were testing for their first time – however, the average was still below the recommended minimum target Omega-3 Index of 8%. This indicates the importance of re-testing and re-evaluating intake.

What are the Omega-6:Omega-3 and AA:EPA Ratios of other participants?

A 2019 review showed that, among GrassrootsHealth participants, 30% had an Omega-6:Omega-3 Ratio of 5:1 or lower and 57% had an AA:EPA Ratio of 11:1 or lower as shown on the chart below.

How do these ratios relate to the Omega-3 Index among GrassrootsHealth participants?

Using the data you provided for the GrassrootsHealth study, we assessed the association between Omega-3 Index and Omega-6:Omega-3 Ratio and the AA:EPA Ratio. As you can see on the charts below, there is a clear relationship between the Omega-3 Index and the Omega-6:Omega-3 and AA:EPA ratios. As the Omega-3 Index increased (indicating higher EPA and DHA intake), the ratios decreased.

Among those with an Omega-3 Index of 8% or higher, nearly all (99.7%) had an AA:EPA Ratio lower than 11 and about half (49%) had a ratio of 3 or lower.


Contact us at [email protected].