Sioux Falls, SD—A new study published in Prostaglandins, Leukotrienes, and Essential Fatty Acids found that people need to both eat more fish and take an omega-3 supplement to reach a cardioprotective Omega-3 Index (O3I) level of 8% or higher, according to a press release from OmegaQuant.

Lead researcher Kristina Harris Jackson, Ph.D., R.D., said the goal of this study was to answer the question: “What combination of (non-fried) fish intake and omega-3 supplement use is associated with a cardioprotective O3I level?”

This question was prompted, the release says, by the fact that the American Heart Association (AHA) last year downgraded its recommendations regarding fish and seafood consumption from “a variety of (preferably oily) fish at least twice a week” to “1 to 2 seafood meals per week.”

And the question was answered by the study, which, according to the release, found that individuals reporting no fish intake and no supplementation had an average O3I of around 4.1%, which is the average for most Americans and is considered deficient. In individuals who reported taking a supplement and eating three fish meals a week, the average O3I was 8.1%, which is the level defined by research as being cardioprotective.

OmegaQuant noted that data from a pooling project of 10 cohort studies confirmed that individuals with an O3I of 8% or higher were 35% less likely to die from cardiovascular disease than those having an O3I of 4% or below. Additionally, higher omega-3 blood levels are beneficially related to cognitive function and overall longevity.

Dr. Jackson said in the release, “The AHA currently recommends one to two fish meals per week and it does not recommend supplementation for the general population. In light of our findings, this regimen is unlikely to produce a cardioprotective O3I of 8%. Having dietary recommendations that aim to achieve a target blood level would likely be more effective at reducing the risk for heart disease.”