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Advantages and Consequences

HS-Omega-3 Index

"HS-Omega-3 Index – the new cholesterol?" asked former director of the National Institutes of Health, USA, Bernadine Healy, already in 2008. Now, we know that there are more reasons to know ones HS-Omega-3 Index than there are reasons to know ones cholesterol. Everybody knows that a low cholesterol is healthy. Everybody should know that a HS-Omega-3 Index between 8% and 11% is optimal for health. Cholesterol and HS-Omega-3 Index complement each other. “Know your number” was the title of a cholesterol campaign in the USA – which is also true for the HS-Omega-3 Index.

HS-Omega-3 Index, heart and circulation

Cardiovascular diseases like myocardial infarction or sudden cardiac death are responsible for the majority of deaths. A low HS-Omega-3 Index is a risk factor for myocardial infarction. After determining the HS-Omega-3 Index, cardiovascular risk can better be assessed than by sole use of conventional risk factors (age, gender, cholesterol, blood pressure, asf.). Many individuals in Western countries have an HS-Omega-3 Index of about 4%. In comparison, at an optimal HS-Omega-3 Index between 8 and 11%.

The most important professional cardiologic societies in Europe and the USA recommend fish and Omega-3 fatty acids for prevention of cardiovascular disease, treatment after a myocardial infarction, for prevention of sudden cardiac death, and for congestive heart failure. These recommendations are based on a substantial body of scientific evidence, including large randomized intervention trials. As a target for treatment with Omega-3 fatty acids, we recommend a HS-Omega-3 Index between 8 and 11%.

HS-Omega-3 Index and brain function

HS-Omega-3 Index and build-up of the brain during pregnancy

Our brain and retina are largely composed of fatty acids, of which docosahexaenoic acid has the greatest proportion. Therefore, substantial quantities of the Omega-3 fatty acid DHA are needed, to build the brain up. These quantities are obtained by the fetus from the mother ??in the last three months of pregnancy. A mother with a low HS-Omega-3 Index (e.g. <4%) runs the risk of being depleted of DHA, and of supplying the fetus insufficiently. With a high HS-Omega-3 Index (e.g. 8 – 11%), the mother can supply the fetus sufficiently for an optimal build-up of brain and eyes. This results in better performances, like:
A low HS-Omega-3 Index concerns the mother too??: The body forms hormone-like substances from Omega-3 fatty acids that impact on pregnancy duration. Moreover, brain function of the mother can suffer as well. A good supply with Omega-3 fatty acids results in: Important scientific societies, among them many nutritional societies, recommend the intake of at least 200 mg DHA / day to ensure sufficient intake of Omega-3 fatty acid by pregnant women. It pointed out that pregnant women tolerated up to 2.7 g / day Omega-3 fatty acids without relevant side effects. The societies recommend also, to detect an Omega-3 fatty acids deficiency early in pregnancy. According to our measurements, in more than 50% of all pregnant women, the HS-Omega-3 Index is too low. After measuring the HS-Omega-3 Index early in pregnancy, the dose of EPA and DHA can be selected, to bring the HS-Omega-3 Index into the range between 8 and 11% - the optimal range in our opinion. Is the HS-Omega-3 Index far too high, a bleeding tendency can be observed in rare cases. Therefore, we recommend a control of the HS-Omega-3 Index after 8 – 12 week.

HS-Omega-3 Index and psychiatric diseases

After birth, the brain is build up further in the subsequent two years, and to a much lesser degree until age twenty. Throughout life, the brain draws Omega-3 fatty acids from the blood. An optimal structure and a lifelong supply of the brain with Omega-3 fatty acids are important prerequisites for optimal brain function. In addition, Omega-3 fatty acids impact on the brain’s blood supply. In comparison to a high HS-Omega-3 Index, a low HS-Omega-3 Index (e.g. 4%) is associated with a higher risk for: For ADHD and depression, several intervention studies demonstrated an improvement after increased intake of Omega-3 fatty acids. We consider an optimal HS-Omega-3 Index adequate to minimize risk for the diseases mentioned, and also an excellent target range for treatment with Omega-3 fatty acids.

HS-Omega-3 Index and cognitive performance

As mentioned, optimal function of the brain depends on its supply with Omega-3 fatty acids, which can be assessed with the HS-Omega-3 Index. In comparison to a high HS-Omega-3 Index, a low HS-Omega-3 Index (e.g.around 4%) is associated with an increased risk for the brain to resolve complex tasks: In persons with minor “age-related” cognitive decline, several intervention studies demonstrated a positive effect of increased intake of Omega-3 fatty acids. We think that an optimal HS-Omega-3 Index (8 – 11%) is appropriate not only to reduce risk for the cognitive impairments mentioned, but also as a target range for prevention and treatment with Omega-3 fatty acids.

HS-Omega-3 Index and other issues

Unconfirmed data indicate that strokes occur less frequently with a high HS-Omega-3 Index. Whether increasing intake of Omega-3 fatty acids reduces strokes is unclear at present. Osteoporosis also seems to be less frequent with a high HS-Omega-3 Index, and bone density can possibly be increased with Omega-3 fatty acids. Physical performance is associated in certain aspects with the level of the HS-Omega-3 Index, increasing intake of Omega-3 fatty acids improves these aspects. According to our unsystematic experiences, patients with chronic polyarthritis adjust themselves to a HS-Omega-3 Index of 15%; it has been proven that Omega-3 fatty acids improve symptoms of chronic polyarthritis, like morning stiffness and joint pain. Other topics are currently investigated.

Tolerability and Safety

Increasing intake of the marine Omega-3 fatty acids eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid increases the HS-Omega-3 Index and improves most of the health issues mentioned, or prevents them, as evidenced by scientific data from intervention studies. (more information at the respective topics). In the studies mentioned, tolerability of these Omega-3 fatty acids was comparable to placebo. Doses up to 4 – 5 grams / day are considered safe.

Risk increases with decreasing levels of the HS-Omega-3 Index at values below 8%, while risk does not seem to decrease at levels above 11%. Since the general population in Japan and Korea has HS-Omega-3 Index values between 8 and 11 %, we consider this target range as optimal and safe. At very high values (>16%), the theoretical possibility of a bleeding tendency exists. A bleeding tendency, however was not reported, when we questioned individuals with even higher levels.