99% of Americans Don’t Get Enough Omega-3s—And It’s As Deadly As Smoking

99% of Americans Don’t Get Enough Omega-3s—And It’s As Deadly As Smoking

Dr. Rhonda Patrick is one of my favorite people in the broad online health community. Not only does she know her stuff, but you can tell how much she cares about health issues. Well, Thomas DeLauer recently sat down with her on his podcast for a discussion about omega-3s that will, and this is a promise, blow your mind. 

If you’d like to watch the entire hour-long interview yourself, you can watch it below:

Or if you’d rather read along to the key points Dr. Rhonda Patrick made in her interview, keep reading. 

First, let’s discuss why omega-3s are so much more important than most people believe. 

Omega-3s Matter As Much To Your Life Expectancy Than Smoking

One of the things Dr. Patrick mentioned in her interview that blew even me away was how she related omega-3s to smoking. Everyone knows smoking is bad. It increases your chance of cardiovascular disease, cancer, and severely lowers your life expectancy. 

But here are some “fun facts” I bet you didn’t know: 

  1. Having an omega-3 deficiency or insufficiency is as deadly to your life expectancy as smoking.
  2. What’s even weirder, is when lifelong smokers who also prioritize omega-3s (through their diet or supplementation), they have the same life expectancy as non-smokers. 

Not only does a lack of omega-3s shorten your life expectancy, but getting enough omega-3s can also increase the life expectancy of smokers! 

Why is this the case? 

Why don’t more people talk about omega-3s if they’re this important for your health? 

Well, hold on. I’m not done with emphasizing the importance of omega-3s. 

There are six preventable causes of early death, including smoking and hypertension, among others. Not getting enough omega-3s through diet or supplementation is another preventable cause of early death. And so is eating trans fat. 

Which one do you think leads to more early deaths, on average, per year? Omega-3s or trans fats? 

According to Dr. Patrick’s research… 

  • 84,000 deaths per year come from low omega-3s
  • And 82,000 deaths per year from trans fats 

That’s 2,000 more deaths each year, on average, than trans fats, which everyone knows is bad, like smoking. And yet, you might’ve heard about fish oil before, but the importance of omega-3s for longevity specifically is probably new to you—as it was for Dr. Rhonda Patrick and me. 

So what do omega-3s do to your body that can be the difference in living a shorter or longer life?

Why Are Omega-3s the Best Longevity “Hack” You Can Do?

Let’s go back to our lifelong smoker example from above. The fact that simply taking omega-3s can almost reverse the consequences of being a lifelong smoker are shocking. 

So, why does this happen? 

Because they’re invaluable to your cardiovascular health. 

Let me explain… 

More people associate smoking with lung cancer than they do smoking with cardiovascular disease. But lung cancer isn’t as common with smokers as cardiovascular disease is. In fact, it takes much much longer for smoking to cause enough damage to your lungs that they develop cancer than it does your cardiovascular health. Many lifelong smokers never got lung cancer because they died from heart disease, heart attacks, and strokes long before. 

That’s where omega-3s come in: 

They have the most benefit to your overall health in your cardiovascular system. That’s why getting enough omega-3s can extend even lifelong smokers’ life expectancy. 

But how much longer can you expect to live by getting enough omega-3 fatty acids?

How Taking Omega-3s can Increase your Life Expectancy by Five Years

There are many reasons that explain why 99% of Americans have deficient or insufficient omega-3 counts: 

We don’t eat much fish compared to other countries because many of us are worried about mercury in fish sources. We also don’t take omega-3 supplements for the same reason. Even though fish oil supplements enjoyed spurts of popularity, the research wasn’t there to make the case of how important omega-3s are. 

But simply taking omega-3s can increase your life expectancy by five years! 

Here’s how we know: 

A research study looked at Americans’ average omega-3 levels and compared them to the Japanese average. 

The results were shocking: 

In America, the average person has an omega-3 index of around 4-5%. In Japan, the omega-3 index is around 10-11%. The average life expectancy in Japan is 5 years longer than in America—maybe solely because of their omega-3 index. 

So, what’s an omega-3 index and what should you aim for? 

An omega-3 index is a simple lab test that is a biomarker of long-term omega-3 status. It’s not as much a snapshot as it is a timelapse. 

An unhealthy level of omega-3s on the omega-3 index is anything under 4%. While healthy levels float at about 8%. 

That’s why Japanese people live longer, on average, than Americans. 

While we’re mostly discussing omega-3s in the broad sense of the term (meaning all omega-3s), there is one distinction I want to make…

Why Omega-3s from Fish are Superior to Omega-3s from Plants

There are three main types of omega-3s, and while each is important, two are more important than the third, especially in the United States where we don’t eat as much fish as other cultures. 

The three types of omega-3s include: 

  1. ALA – which comes from plants and nuts
  2. EPA – which comes from fish and seafood
  3. DHA – which comes from fish and seafood

Of the three, ALA is the least important partly because Americans get adequate amounts from their diets already. For our discussion, EPA and DHA are the two to keep in mind. 


Well, one five-year study showed that EPA by itself resulted in a 25% decrease in death from heart attack and heart disease! 25% is already a massive percentage, but the best part about this study is that the purified EPA was administered in the least bioavailable form. 

That means bioavailable EPA may cause even bigger declines. 

Another study that looked at EPA and DHA found that the two omega-3 fatty acids  significantly lower cardiovascular risk and resulted in a 28% decrease in death from heart disease and heart attacks. 

DHA itself, while not as impressive for your cardiovascular health as EPA, is still invaluable to your health. When you’re deficient in DHA, it screws up neurotransmission of serotonin and dopamine. Your cells become “stiffer” and deprive you of these feel-good chemicals. It also interferes with glucose transports in your brain. 

Despite the mercury concern that keeps people from fish,, that a developing fetus (which is most sensitive to mercury) benefit even more from omega-3s because omega-3s protect the fetus from mercury contamination—even if a fish product or supplement has mercury in it! 

But, like the title of this article suggests, the bad news is that 99% of Americans don’t get enough omega-3. Keep reading to see how we can fix this:

How Do I Find My Omega-3 Levels & How Quickly Can I Improve My Omega-3 Index?

The good news is that even if you have low omega-3 index scores (under 4%), not only is it possible to fix it, you’ll be able to do so within about three months. 

First, how can you tell what your Omega-3 levels are? 

The best way to know whether or not you need to eat more fish (or supplement with omega-3s) is by taking an omega-3 index. Remember, the omega-3 index is a biomarker of long-term omega-3 status. 

How do you take an omega-3 index? 

I’m glad you asked! 

I recently partnered with Rupa Health, an online lab shop that gives my clients an easy way to purchase functional lab tests, including the omega-3 index (as well as several other lab tests). 

If you’d like to order the Omega-3 Index Complete from Rupa Health, use the link below: 

>> Order the Omega-3 Index Complete lab test here << 

Now, after taking your test, you might wonder how you can improve your omega-3 index. 

There are a couple of ways to accomplish this: 

Through your diet (aka eating more fish, especially smaller fish like sardines and mackerel and cod) or supplementation (omega-3 supplements, EPA & DHA supplements, or things like cod liver oil). There’s a lot of ways to improve your omega-3 index, find which one works for you, your wellness regimen, and your budget. 

If you’re interested in going down the supplementation route, let me introduce you to another online service I use to help my clients find the healthiest supplements around. 

I also use an online dispensary called Fullscript, which gives you access to a sea of supplements for all sorts of different causes. For example, doing a quick search for “omega-3s” on Fullscript yielded 469 results: ranging from EPA/DHA liquids to omega-3 capsules to cod liver oil and even to omega-3s for your pets. 

There are a lot of options there for you. And when you create a Fullscript account through my practitioner link, you can save 20% on your first order. 

You can create your Fullscript account below: 

>> Create your Fullscript account and unlock 20% off your first order << 

I recommend analyzing your results before ordering any supplements. That way you can be certain that a given supplement can reverse whatever omega-3 you’re low in, whether it’s DHA, EPA, or both. 

Remember, it’ll take about three months to go from 4% to 8%. After implementing your omega-3s plan, make sure to give yourself three months to retest yourself again with an omega-3 index. 

If you need further assistance interpreting your lab test results, creating a nutrition plan to fix your low omega-3s, or picking the best supplement based on your results , you can book a consultation with me below: 

>> Book your consultation with me here << 

I’ll leave you with this… 

There’s a 99% chance your omega-3s are either deficient or insufficient—and leaving this unchecked shortens your life expectancy as much as smoking cigarettes. The good news is creating a plan to restore your omega-3 levels is a cakewalk compared to quitting smoking. 

Best part? 

Not only can the omega-3 index test unlock exact insights into your long-term omega-3 levels, but supplemental options are within your reach that can turn low omega-3 levels to healthy ones with ease. 

You got this!