Risks Of High Omega 3 Levels?

Does anyone have any experience with high Omega-3 levels? Also, are you aware of any possible health risks associated with high O3 levels and low O6/O3 ratios? I searched these forums and online- cannot find anything credible so far other than possible increased risk of prostate cancer associated with high omega-3 levels.


Some background:

I recently got fatty acids testing done thru Wellness FX. Based on what I’ve heard in Paleo circles, I was expecting slight Omega-3 deficiency and O6/O3 ratio of close to 5:1. But, I was shocked with my results (see attached images). My overall O3 level and EPA and DHA level seem to be very high and Wellness FX flags this as high risk. The O6 level (arachodonic acid), on the other hand, is extremely low. The O6/O3 ratio is 1.


Now, I’m aware that a lot of people including Dave want the O6/O3 ratio to be as low as possible. But, I am little skeptical that I’m at such a low level without trying, especially since most people with ‘Western diets’ seem to be over 5:1- sometimes 10:1

I’m slightly overweight, but do not have any major health issues. I do eat close to a paleo template (occasional raw dairy). I prefer salmon over grass-fed beef and consume 6 oz of wild salmon 3-4 times week and dose with 3 grams of fish oil on workout days (3x a week).


Am I misinterpreting these test results? Should I hold back on salmon and load up on almond chicken? I’ve never heard of risks of very high Omega-3 levels, but am wondering if I should schedule a Wellness FX consult with a physician.







  • I take 5-6 grams of o3 a day because it's the only thing that keeps my jaw pain at bay. I haven't had any issues, but I doubt I would know if I did.

    Keeps my knees from hurting too.
  • John BrissonJohn Brisson The Legend Formerly Known as Ron Swanson ✭✭✭

    Maybe get a little more Omega 6 in? Avocado, sunflower seed oil, and chicken?

    My book Fix Your Gut, is offered on Amazon for $9.99.


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  • I had this issue as well - didn't eat butter for a month (for other reasons) which forced me to eat more nuts, seeds, avocado, etc.  Also take primrose oil at night. 

  • Thanks guys. It does seem like I have flexibility to add more omega-6 in my diet without worrying about excessive inflammation. I'll start by not shying away from chicken too much, and including avocados and some nuts regularly in my diet. I can retest in a few months and see if anything changes.


    Still, I was curious why high omega-3 level would be flagged as a high risk factor, given all the positive things that are understood about these fatty acids. I did some research and am posting some findings below, in case anyone is in the same situation as I am.


    If any of you have had omega levels tested, I'd very interested to hear about your results and the lab ranges used in your results. 


    Omega-3 Index

    This seems to be an important predictor of cardiovascular risk. The omega-3 index is the percentage of EPA and DHA in RBCs of the total fatty acids in RBCs. So, a higher omega-3 index should mean a greater reduction in cardiovascular risk. The sources I found seem to agree with this.


    Chris Kresser thinks 12-15% omega-3 index offers greatest reduction in risk for cardiovascular mortality. (http://chriskresser.com/how-much-omega-3-is-enough-that-depends-on-omega-6).  The original experiments that Kresser cites also concur (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15208005). They say "The Omega-3 Index was inversely associated with risk for CHD mortality. An Omega-3 Index of > or = 8% was associated with the greatest cardioprotection, whereas an index of < or = 4% was associated with the least." 


    Also, Quest Diagnostics (another testing company) performs a similar fatty acid panel and they state that omega-3 index above 3.3% is associated with a low CVD risk (http://www.questdiagnostics.com/testcenter/testguide.action?dc=TS_Omega_3_6). In fact, Wellness FX's own text above the graphic on omega-3 index states that a lower omega-3 index is linked to greater risk of sudden cardiac death. So, their ranges do not make sense to me. Why would they consider 0.5-6.4% low risk and >6.4% high risk is beyond me. The literature seems to disagree.


    High EPA and DHA levels

    Again, the literature seems to point that higher levels of EPA and DHA are preferable to lower levels due to anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective effects. I'm not sure why the higher level is capped at 2.3% and 3.0% for EPA and DHA respectively. However, this sentence from the Quest Diagnostics page is suggestive " ..ingestion of large amounts of omega-3 fatty acids can lead to gastrointestinal upset, worsening hyperglycemia in patients with impaired glucose tolerance and diabetes, and an increase in low-density lipoprotein cholesterol in patients with hypertriglyceridemia (Kris-Etherton PM, Harris WS, Appel LJ. Fish consumption, fish oil, omega-3 fatty acids, and cardiovascular disease. Circulation. 2002;106:2747�2757)"  These effects seem to be far less severe than the effects of low omega-3 levels. So, high levels of these may not be worth sweating over.


    Low AA (arachidonic acid) levels

    As this is a type of omega-6, all advice is directed toward reducing these levels. However, a small amount of this fatty acid may be essential for the body, so extremely low levels may not be ideal. My levels seem to be in the 'recommended' range.



    It is clear that my O6/O3 ration and AA/EPA ratio are low because of high O3/EPA levels and low O6/AA levels. This is claimed to be a good state of health and one that is sought after by many. I'm not sure why WellnessFX considers lower values on these ratios as a risk factor, but here is a quote from the Quest Diag page:

    An arachidonic acid/EPA ratio and/or an omega-6/omega-3 ratio close to 1 suggests a good balance between the prothrombotic/proinflammatory omega-6 fatty acids and the more protective omega-3 fatty acids. High ratios suggest a need for dietary modifications (decrease in meat, eggs, dairy products and increase in fish intake) and/or omega-3 supplementation.

  • I had this issue as well - didn't eat butter for a month (for other reasons) which forced me to eat more nuts, seeds, avocado, etc.  Also take primrose oil at night. 


    Curious- does primrose oil have other effects in addition to providing more omega-6? Did you see any effects on sleep, energy etc.?

  • RekaReka ✭✭✭

    Chicken returns to glory!

    It doesn't get easier... It's you who gets better.


    Is your social worker in that horse?


    Success has a price, not a secret.

  • Funny thing - when my doctor showed me my results showing not enough O6 I asked him if I should start eating chicken and he said "Fuck no!"


    Chicken returns to glory!

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