You can probably imagine Maria’s surprise when she received the news from her father about her omega-3 levels in the video you just watched.
She thought she was doing everything right, but being a healthy world-class athlete wasn’t enough to keep her from becoming a victim of a serious nutrient deficiency with major implications for health. In fact, her activity level only made things worse.
Unfortunately, Maria isn’t an exception.
A recent survey of 298 studies on omega-3 fatty acid levels in adults paints a dismal picture for many parts of the developed world, especially North America.
As you can see in the map below, far more regions have populations with very low levels (red) than areas falling in the healthy zone (green). The entire North American continent (excluding Alaska) and much of South America and Europe have dramatically low levels of less than 4 percent.
Alaska and Greenland – where Maria’s family lives, as well as the Northernmost Atlantic countries, have the most ideal blood levels of omega-3s – more than 8 percent.
Why Higher Omega-3 Levels Are Crucial for Your Health
Like vitamin D, being deficient in omega-3s can leave you vulnerable to a whole host of health issues. Higher omega-3 levels benefit your body, especially for heart, colon, bone, joints, brain, and immune health.
How high should they be? Levels of eight percent and above are considered ideal. Four percent and below are associated with health issues and a higher risk for chronic disorders.
EPA and DHA are the most important omega-3 fatty acids for your entire body. They are structural elements found in every cell in your body. They have specific transporters located in your blood-brain barrier, in your liver, and a pregnant woman’s placenta to deliver them directly into these important organs.
Low levels are associated with an increased risk of death from all causes as well as cognitive decline. Studies show evidence of omega-3 benefits on your:
- Heart health – An Italian study of 11,324 heart attack survivors found that patients supplementing with fish oils helped improve their cardiovascular health*
- Blood vessel health – DHA and EPA improve endothelial function which helps promote growth of new blood vessels*
- Brain health – EPA and DHA help keep the dopamine levels in your brain high, increasing neuronal growth in the frontal cortex of your brain (involved with memory, motor function, and problem solving), and boosting cerebral circulation*
- Cellular and mitochondrial health – DHA and EPA are important for basic cell division, function of cell receptors and communication within and between cells, and profoundly influence mitochondrial health*
Heart and brain health, and healthy blood lipids are just a few of the many potential benefits of having adequate levels of EPA and DHA.
In general, the more long-chain omega-3s EPA and DHA you have in your body, the healthier your inflammatory response and overall well-being.
As you can see in the two graphs below, since the early 1990s, we’ve seen a substantial increase in the numbers of early deaths and lost years of productivity due to low intake of the omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DPA.
These rapidly climbing numbers should be a major wakeup call to anyone living in an area where levels are low!
Why Your Omega-3 Levels May Be Falling
Perhaps you’re wondering what’s behind the widespread omega-3 deficiency. We don’t know for sure because, up until recently, there wasn’t an accurate way to measure omega-3 fats inside your body.
Fatty fish like wild-caught Alaskan salmon, sardines, anchovies and krill are the main source of the omega-3 fatty acids DHA and EPA.
As our seas become increasing polluted and aquaculture – or fish farms – take on greater shares of the global salmon market (now at 70 percent), we’re ending up with lower levels of these precious fats.
According to a recent British study, the average omega-3 levels in farmed salmon dropped by half between 2005 and 2016.
Why is this happening? To speed up fish growth, salmon farmers are feeding their fish higher amounts of total fat – mostly from added omega-6 vegetable oils that dilute omega-3 levels and promote inflammation.
More omega-6 fatty acids in your salmon – and in your diet in general – can adversely affect your omega-3-to-omega-6 ratios, and consequently, the health of your heart, brain, and other organs and tissues.
And if you don’t regularly eat wild Alaskan salmon or sardines or anchovies, you’re likely not getting enough omega-3s, specifically DHA and EPA.
But, I don’t want you to guess. Testing your blood for omega-3s is your only real way to know how deficient you may be.
In fact, along with vitamin D, I now believe measuring your omega-3 level is vitally important and should be done on an annual basis.
The Revolutionary Test That Hardly Anyone Knows About... Measures BOTH Omega-3s and Vitamin D
Hopefully you are already regularly testing your serum vitamin D levels. And, if they’re low, you’re taking measures to raise them by increasing your safe sunlight exposure or taking a vitamin D3 supplement along with vitamin K2.
But chances are you don’t know your levels of DHA and EPA...
The effects of low levels typically go unnoticed, and most doctors aren’t even aware that an accurate test exists to measure omega-3 status.
As part of a consumer-sponsored research project, directed by GrassrootsHealth, the Vitamin D & Omega-3 Test Kit is a third party, combined test kit that measures both vitamin D3 and omega-3 blood levels.
The goal of this worldwide research project is to gather information on the population’s vitamin D and omega-3 levels to better understand these nutrients and their deficiencies.
The Vitamin D & Omega-3 Test Kit measures the amount of omega-3s in your red blood cells – hands down the best way to assess levels. EPA and DHA are found in your red blood cell membranes in your organs and tissues where they do much of their work.
By participating in this project, which analyzes yours and other’s test results (anonymously, of course), you not only find out your own levels but you also provide researchers with the opportunity to learn more about Vitamin D & Omega-3 In the population. Plus, you get to be a part of an important initiative to help end vitamin D and omega-3 deficiencies.
And because this test measures your serum vitamin D3 levels at the same time as your omega-3 levels, you don’t need to do two separate tests. You save time and money!
“My Omega-3 Levels Are Low. Now What?”
Ideally, you want your omega-3 index to be above 8 percent. If you’re below 8 percent, increase your omega-3 intake and retest until you find the dosage that allows you to reach and maintain an ideal level.
How much omega-3s do you need if you’re low?
Requirements vary depending on your lifestyle and physical activity level, as well as your intake of fatty fish. You’ll only know if you’re getting enough by repeating the test, ideally in three to six months.
Athletes, like Maria in the video, burn off their omega-3s faster than non-athletes. They’re burning DHA as fuel rather than using it as a structural component of their cell membranes. Therefore, they need higher dosages.
As we already discussed, including more wild-caught Alaskan salmon, anchovies and sardines in your diet will help you raise your levels of the omega-3s DHA and EPA.
Here’s another tip: Don’t rely on plant sources for your total DHA and EPA needs.
Many people believe flax oil and seeds are good sources of omega-3s, and they don’t need animal sources.
This isn’t true, as the Alpha-linolenic acid, or ALA in flax and chia seed does not readily convert to DHA. Only one to three percent and perhaps as low as 0.1 percent of ALA is converted to DHA – far short of the amount needed for heart and brain health!
While plant-based omega-3s are valuable for health, animal-based DHA and EPA are the ones linked to heart and brain health, cellular and mitochondrial function, fetal development and healthy pregnancy, bone health, mood, and much more.
Unlike DHA and EPA, ALA is widely available in your diet.
However, if you have low levels of omega-3s now, you may need to do more than just eat more salmon...
Why Krill Oil May Be Your Preferred Line of Defense Against Low Omega-3 Levels
Taking a high-quality krill oil supplement may be the single most important thing you can do to safely raise your levels as quickly as possible.
For optimal results, I recommend my Antarctic Krill Oil, hands down, because it carries omega-3s in the form of phospholipids for increased bioavailability potential and it comes from the only fishery to receive an “A” rating for sustainability and management strategy!*
I also offer Salmon Oil in my store for those who can’t take krill for any reason, but krill may be even better if you want to quickly replenish your levels.
In a 12-week study on krill oil, 300 volunteers with “borderline high” or “high” blood triglyceride levels were divided into five groups.
Each group received either 0.5, 1, 2 or 4 grams of krill oil per day or placebo (olive oil).
As you can see in the graph below, in only 12 weeks, the subjects taking 4 grams of krill oil per day raised their Omega-3 Index from 3.7 to 6.3 percent – a 70 percent increase!
Compared to the olive oil group, those receiving krill oil had a 10 percent reduction in their serum triglycerides without a rise in their cholesterol levels.
How about other fish oils – can they raise your levels as well as krill?
In a clinical study, healthy volunteers took either 2 grams of Antarctic Krill Oil for 8 weeks or 2 grams of an omega-3 enriched fish oil.
As seen in the graph below, krill oil increased the Omega-3 Index significantly more than fish oil after only eight weeks.
Researchers believed this marked difference is due to how the omega-3 fats are delivered to the cells.
A published double-blind study showed even greater results… Comparing the effects of krill oil and fish oil to a corn oil control, krill oil raised plasma concentrations of EPA and DHA two times better than fish oil and improved omega-3 to omega-6 ratios. Serum triglycerides and HDL cholesterol concentrations remained the same.
The researchers also noted that the krill oil group tolerated the oil well and reported no adverse effects.
While fish oil has its omega-3s in triglyceride form, krill oil’s fatty acids are in the form of phospholipids. Structurally different, these small lipid packages – or liposomes – readily cross your cell membranes, providing the potential for greater bioavailability.
And here’s one more advantage to krill oil... it provides the essential nutrient choline, which is crucial for cell structure, function, and signaling, and like omega-3 fatty acids, supports cardiovascular, liver and cognitive health.*
If you are currently taking fish oil as your omega-3 source, I urge you to consider switching over to my Antarctic Krill Oil.
A Deficiency Even Deadlier Than Omega-3?
As serious as an omega-3 deficiency may be, a vitamin D deficiency is even worse. It’s potentially the world’s single deadliest deficiency.
An estimated 85 percent of Americans aren’t getting enough of the “sunshine vitamin” that’s crucial for healthy cell growth, nerve and brain health, bone health, a healthy weight, and optimal care for your muscles, heart and other organs.
And now researchers know that vitamin D affects nearly 3,000 of your genes and all your cells.
Keep these pointers in mind when increasing your safe sun exposure:
- The right time of day – About 1:00 p.m. during Daylight Savings Time is the best time to expose as much skin as possible (more than just your face and hands)
- The right duration – Fair-skinned people may only need from 10 to 20 minutes for maximum vitamin D production, but if you have darker skin, you’ll need more time in the sun
- Take care of sensitive spots – The skin around your eyes is thinner and must be protected to prevent photoaging and premature wrinkling with a safe sunscreen or a visor or cap
- Don’t wash away the vitamin D – Most people don’t realize that the vitamin D created on the surface of your skin may take up to 48 hours to cross through and enter your bloodstream, so avoid showering right after sun exposure
Here’s one caveat about sun exposure than many don’t realize: In most parts of the Northern hemisphere, including Canada and the U.S., you can’t get enough sunlight to produce adequate levels of vitamin D in your skin anyway!
And even if you do live in the tropics or a subtropical zone, if you’re over 50 or have darker skin, your skin produces less vitamin D during exposure – and maybe not enough to meet your needs, unless you spend more time in the sun.
My Best Advice to You If You Can’t Get Enough Vitamin D From the Sun
I could advise you to move to a more southern climate, like I did, but I realize that isn’t an option for everyone.
A vitamin D supplement is your next best option. However, please make sure it is vitamin D3 and not vitamin D2. Totally different, vitamin D2 is the synthetic form that’s sometimes prescribed by doctors. Vitamin D3 is about five times more potent in raising in your serum 25(OH)D (25-hydroxyvitamin D3) than D2.
I offer several Vitamin D3 options in my store – we sell Vitamin D in spray form and in capsules, by itself and with calcium and vitamin K2. We recently added a liposomal form – Liposomal Vitamin D – which uses phospholipids for higher bioavailability potential.*
No matter which vitamin D3 supplement you choose, always take vitamin K2 along with it. Taking them together is essential for maintaining healthy arteries, a healthy heart, and strong bones!*
By regularly measuring your vitamin D3 level, you can identify where you stand so you can personalize your dosing to raise your levels into a healthy range. The chart below shows what vitamin D experts recommend as the ideal average range: 40 to 60 nanograms per milliliter (ng/ml).
So how much vitamin D do you need? Below you can see how much you would need to take to achieve various serum levels (top line). For example, if your current level is 20 ng/ml (in the first column), you will likely need 5,000 IUs in addition to your current intake to raise it to 40, and 10,000 IUs per day to bring your levels to 60 ng/ml.
Don’t Forget About Your Magnesium Levels for Overall Health
This newest research project directed by GrassrootsHealth takes vitamin D testing to a whole new level…
Magnesium is one of the most crucial minerals in your body, and it’s also one of the most common mineral deficiencies worldwide.
It’s believed that as many as 80% of Americans don’t get enough. Up to 84% of postmenopausal women may be deficient simply because it becomes more difficult to absorb magnesium as you age.
Chronic disease, digestive disorders, medications, low levels in food and the abundance of refined and processed foods can all contribute to magnesium deficiency.
Plus, if you have Type 2 diabetes or are prediabetic (more than 100 million Americans have diabetes or are prediabetic), you are more than likely to be deficient as diabetics lose magnesium in their urine.
You need magnesium for your brain and bone health, blood glucose control, DNA and genetic material, blood pressure, detoxification processes and for activating vitamin D in your body.
Low levels are linked to heart and brain issues, migraines, mood issues, blood pressure and blood sugar concerns and insulin resistance.
Now you can measure your blood levels of magnesium at the same time you check your vitamin D and omega-3 levels with the Vitamin D, Omega-3 & Magnesium Test Kit.
Because only 1% of the magnesium in your body is actually found in your bloodstream, a regular serum magnesium test doesn’t give you an accurate measurement. Instead, the Vitamin D, Magnesium & Omega-3 Test measures the amount of magnesium in your red blood cells with the more sensitive RBC blood test.
When your body becomes deficient in magnesium, it pulls the magnesium stored in your red blood cells and deposits it into the serum of your blood. Therefore, a standard serum magnesium blood test may show magnesium levels as normal even though the red blood cell’s stores of magnesium are depleted.
When you order the Vitamin D, Omega-3 & Magnesium Test Kit, you’ll automatically become enrolled in the research project directed by GrassrootsHealth. You’ll receive detailed instructions along with its blood spot cards and lancets to collect your blood sample at home
Once GrassrootsHealth receives your samples (simply use the included return envelope to mail them back), you’ll be emailed a link to your online test results within 7-10 days.
Go Beyond Common Deficiencies, and Test Other Essential Minerals as Well
Like magnesium, selenium and zinc deficiencies are also a widespread concern for people around the world.
These important minerals are needed for cell health, immune function, normal healthy lipid levels and a healthy inflammatory response. There’s a good chance you may not be getting enough, especially with today’s nutrient-depleted soils.
As for the elements you don’t want in your body…
Cadmium, lead and mercury are three of the most potentially harmful metals that can be found in your blood. You’re exposed to these heavy metals through the air, water, medicines, dental amalgams and certain foods.
When your body can’t remove these heavy metals through its normal detoxification processes, they can accumulate and impact your thinking and memory, behavior and organ function.
Now you can measure all of these minerals and heavy metals with a special add-on test called the PLUS Elements Test.
When you order the PLUS Elements Test along with your Vitamin D, Omega-3 & Magnesium Test Kit, GrassrootsHealth will test your blood at the same time for these six additional elements:
Please note: The PLUS Elements Test must be selected at the same time you order the Vitamin D, Omega-3 & Magnesium Test Kit. The PLUS Elements Test is designed to be an add-on test and cannot be ordered by itself.
When you add on the PLUS Elements Test, you’ll receive a proof of purchase certificate to include in your return envelope when you send back your completed blood spot cards for both tests.
Once GrassrootsHealth receives your samples (simply use the included return envelope to mail them back), you’ll be emailed a link to your online test results within 7-10 days.
Get in the Know, and Test Your Levels Today With These Revolutionary Test Kits
Remember, you can’t tell by looking in a mirror if you are deficient in vitamin D, omega-3s, magnesium or other essential minerals. You may not even feel its effects for some time. The only real way to know is to test your levels regularly, at least once a year.
It’s as easy as 1-2-3 to do...
- Order Your Test Kit. The kits include:
Instructions for taking the test and registering for the project
2 blood spot cards
1 envelope for returning the card
1 gauze pad, 2 band aids and 1 alcohol swab
- Follow the included instructions for testing. No doctor or lab visit needed.
- Mail your samples and questionnaire in the provided envelope.
After filling out the questionnaire and returning your samples, you will receive an email when your test results are ready. This is usually within 10 to 20 days after receipt of your samples.
Please note that the Vitamin D portion of these test kits are part of a research project, and participation is required upon purchase, including filling out a questionnaire. Registration information and questionnaires may be reviewed prior to purchasing at www.grassrootshealth.net/projects.
This testing is performed by an independent research organization. Dr. Mercola does not personally review or evaluate individual test results.
Take Control of Your Health® today, and order your Vitamin D Test Kits to begin your journey to healthy levels.