Todd Whitthorne from Cooper Aerobics, interviews Dr. William Harris. Dr. Harris, a senior scientist for Health Diagnostic Laboratory, is a leading expert on omega-3, and is co-developer of the HS Omega-3 Index, a simple blood test that can objectively measure the concentration of omega-3 fats in red blood cells. Click here to listen to the interview.

In the ORIGIN Trial, participants received 1 gram of omega-3 fatty acids daily. The participants in the study (12,537 participants), didn’t necessarily have heart disease, but had some kind of abnormal glucose metabolism –diabetes, fasting hyperglycemia, or some problem with glucose. Dr. Harris discusses the research findings, and his opinions about why the results came out as they did.

Dr. Harris discusses the Framingham Heart Study, a large population study out of Boston, and how the individuals with the lowest omega-3 levels have physically smaller brains than people with higher omega-3 levels, and do not do as well on cognitive function tests as those with higher omega-3 levels. Dr. Harris believes it’s possible that higher omega-3 levels may help forestall development of dementia.

The HS Omega-3 Test, which objectively measures the omega-3 fats in red blood cells, is discussed.  Omega-3 is expressed as a percent so it’s a percent of the total fatty acid found in the red blood cells that are EPA and DHA omega-3.  The typical American has a score of around 4- to 5 percent, while the Japanese (who eat lots of cold water fish) have an omega-3 index closer to 8, 9, or 10 percent. Although large numbers of Japanese smoke and high have blood pressure, they live on average four years longer than Americans, and there’s thought that their high omega-3 index is responsible for these statistics.

A laboratory in Richmond, Virginia runs the test. The test is available like a blood cholesterol or triglyceride test, and seems to be covered by most third-party payers. Patients can ask their physician to order the test when they have blood taken for other tests.

Dr. Harris discusses the recent ruling by the European Food Safety Agency that states consumption of 5 grams EPA and DHA per day (combined) is safe. This is a very different number than 5 grams of fish oil, and Dr. Harris explains how.

Dr. Harris also discusses how omega-3 fatty acids seem to lower systemic inflammation, and this overall reduction in inflammation seems to play a role both in the neuropsychiatric diseases as well as cardiovascular and joint disease.

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