An inadequate intake of EPA and DHA from marine sources is associated with an increased risk for death from Coronary Heart Disease (CHD). Researchers from Saint Luke's Hospital in Kansas City tested the clinical relevance of a biological marker called the Omega-3 Index.
The Omega-3 Index measures total red blood cell EPA + DHA content with results given as a percentage of total fatty acids. The results of the study show that Omega-3 Index values are inversely associated with risk for CHD mortality. An Omega-3 Index of greater than 8% was associated with the greatest cardiovascular protection, while an index of less than 4% was associated with little or no cardiovascular protection.
The authors conclude that the Omega-3 Index is an independent and relevant risk factor for CHD that warrants widespread utilization. An Omega-3 Index of 8% or greater can be achieved with a total daily EPA and DHA intake of one gram or more.
Harris, W., "The Omega-3 Index: a new risk factor for death from coronary heart disease?" Prev. Med. 2004 July;39(1):212-20.