We tested the Omega-3 levels of 250 healthy women. Here's what we found.
Through our own foray into nutrient testing several years ago, we were shocked to realize that we were both extremely deficient in Omega-3. Despite careful attention to our diets, the results were unequivocal--food alone was not meeting our needs. And, as we dug into the research, we realized we were far from alone.
Studies estimate that up to 95% of women of childbearing age are failing to meet their Omega-3 needs. Deficiency in Omega-3 can lead to suboptimal pregnancy outcomes for both mom and baby, and deficiencies for women can persist for years after pregnancy. Even those of us who meet the recommended 2-3 servings of fatty fish per week can suffer from a dearth of Omega-3. The most reliable way to improve an Omega-3 deficiency is therefore to properly supplement with a high quality source of DHA and EPA. But, despite how common Omega-3 deficiency is among mamas and mamas-to-be, it is a phenomenon largely overlooked by the western medical community and most prenatal vitamin manufacturers.
We started Needed to meet the need for a better source of Omega-3 for ourselves and millions of women like us. Our commitment as a company is to empower you not just with high quality products to address your nutritional gaps, but also with the resources to better understand what your nutritional needs are at this critical stage in your journey to motherhood.
To do so, we’ve partnered with OmegaQuant, the leading experts on Omega-3 DHA and EPA nutrient testing. Together, over the last 6 months, we tested the Omega-3 levels of nearly 250 women of childbearing age from across the country at wellness events including Attune in Georgia, Ceremony Wellness in Los Angeles, In Good Company in San Francisco, and the DONA International Doula Conference in Houston, as well as through direct outreach to wellness practitioners (integrative doctors, doulas, acupuncturists, nutritionists, yoga instructors and more) and other health influencers. Among these nutritionally-aware women, we found that ~96.3% were not meeting their Omega-3 needs (Omega-3 index <8%), and ~41.9% were critically low in Omega-3 (Omega-3 index <5%), as of the testing date.
We share these results not to create fear, but to inform and empower you to better understand your nutritional needs. We are excited to announce that, beginning later this month, we are launching an Omega-3 finger-prick nutrient test to empower you to test your levels from the comfort of your home. To celebrate, use code OMEGATESTING at checkout to receive a free nutrient test with the start of your Omega-3 product subscription.
Feeling empowered after reading this article? Help us spread the word about the importance of Omega-3 to your fellow mamas and health practitioners.
Who is OmegaQuant and why did we partner with them?
OmegaQuant is an independent, CLIA-certified lab that offers Omega-3 nutrient level testing to researchers, clinicians, and the public, and sets the standard for Omega-3 testing. The founder of OmegaQuant, Dr. Harris, has been researching Omega-3 and other fatty-acids for the last 30 years, and has more than 300 published scientific papers on the subject. To date, the Omega-3 Index test has been used in more than 200 studies. And, OmegaQuant has conducted more research on its tests than any other commercial lab, and new studies continue to publish.
At Needed, we are committed to making products that meet real consumer needs--that are proven to work and tailored to you. We work to prove our products work, both in the lab through clinical validation and third party testing, as well as in the real lives of our customer and health practitioner community. And, we work to meet you wherever you are on your path to becoming a mom. Our partnership with OmegaQuant supports our efforts to demonstrate the need for Omega-3, prove the effectiveness of our Omega-3 supplement, and to empower you to understand and meet your unique Omega-3 needs.
How does the Omega-3 nutrient test work?
The test requires a simple finger stick and one drop of blood for OmegaQuant’s lab to measure your Omega-3 Index. An Omega-3 Index is a % measure of Omega-3 DHA + EPA in your blood (red blood cells membranes, expressed as a percent of total identified fatty acids). The test provides an unbiased view of whether your dietary intake of Omega-3 is sufficient. The original scientific paper establishing the Omega-3 Index was published over a decade ago. Since then, it has been cited more than 700 times by other scientific papers.
What is the optimal level of Omega-3?
An Omega-3 Index in the range of 8-12% is one indicator of better overall health. An Index of 4% or less (which is common in the US) indicates the highest risk for not having enough Omega-3. In pregnancy, however, needs are elevated. Research indicates that women should strive to reach a DHA target of 5% or above to reduce their preterm birth risk. An Index, the measure of both DHA and EPA, of 5% or less indicates the highest risk for not having enough Omega-3 for mom or baby in pregnancy.
Why is it important to have an optimal level of Omega-3 before, during, and after pregnancy?
Omega-3 is a critical nutrient before, during, and after pregnancy supporting everything from mama’s fertility, to baby’s brain development, to mama’s recovery postpartum. Adequate Omega-3 levels ensure there is enough Omega-3 for the health of both mom and baby. Often, if moms Omega-3 levels are low, baby draws on mom’s Omega-3 stores, leaving mom depleted postpartum, negatively affecting her mood and recovery. For information on why you need more before, during, and after pregnancy please read here.
What did the Needed test results show?
With the support of OmegaQuant, we tested 241 women of childbearing age between July and December 2019 at various wellness events and through direct outreach to wellness influencers in the United States. Results were in line with broader research indicating up to 95% of women of childbearing age are failing to meet their Omega-3 needs.
An Omega-3 Index in the range of 8-12% is one indicator of better overall health. An Index of 5% or less indicates the highest risk for not having enough Omega-3 for mom or baby in pregnancy.
Needed results linked here and presented below.
- Average Omega-3 Index: 5.46%
- Median Omega-3 Index: 5.29%
- # and % with an Omega-3 index under 5% (highest risk for not having enough Omega-3 for mom and baby): 101 / 41.91%
- # and % with an Omega-3 index under 8% (suboptimal to high risk): 232 / 96.27%
- # and % with an Omega-3 index in the healthy range, 8-12%: 8 / 3.32%
One tester had an Omega-3 Index of 15.49%. An Index above 12% has not proven to be disadvantageous, but there is little research for high values.
All testers with an Omega-3 Index above 8% indicated that they were supplementing with a DHA + EPA form of an Omega-3 supplement. Importantly, many testers with Indexes below 8% also supplemented, indicating that not all Omega-3 supplements are effective in raising levels. Learn more about how our Omega-3 is 5x better absorbed than standard fish oil pills here.
Where to go from here?Overall, the results of our testing nearly 250 healthy women confirm that even the most nutritionally-aware among us struggle to get enough Omega-3 from food alone. As mamas and mamas-to-be, we need to properly supplement with an Omega-3 that's tailored to our needs. Start a healthy habit for you and your baby today.
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