Times of Oman - - LIFESTYLE -

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 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!”

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