Changing Reference Ranges for Essential Fatty Acids: A Risk-based View of the Scientific Evidence

Arivale Team,
Arivale Team

Arivale is committed to continuously evaluating the latest research and the strength of evidence to better understand and share scientifically validated metrics for wellness. Occasionally, new research modifies our interpretation of certain biomarkers.

We are adjusting the essential fatty acid (omega 3s and omega 6s) reference ranges—which we evaluate to assess potential inflammatory and/or cardiovascular risk factors. As background, most of the reference ranges displayed on the Arivale dashboard are supplied by our partner laboratories (e.g. LabCorp). The ranges generally fall into two categories:

Population-based reference ranges. These are based on studies involving tens of thousands of measurements and are a good indicator of what is “typical” for a given biomarker in the U.S. population.

Risk-based ranges. These ranges are based on published clinical studies where an association between a biomarker and risk for a particular disease or condition has been confirmed by multiple research groups. In some cases, there are also national expert group recommendations. An example of this is the reference range cutoff of >200 mg/dl for cholesterol, which has been confirmed in many studies to be associated with heart disease risk.

For omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids, we have decided to adopt a risk-based reference ranges based on several major research studies.

These reference range changes will help you set more meaningful wellness goals around dietary fish intake and fish oil supplementation, especially if your omega 3 fatty acid blood levels are low.

As another result of this comprehensive review of fatty acids and health risk, we will no longer report the omega 6 to omega 3 (O6/O3) ratio for future blood tests. (Past measurements will still be displayed on your dashboard.) Instead, we’ll report on a more specific omega 3 to 6 fatty acid ratio: EPA/AA. The EPA/AA ratio is a more evidence-based indicator of omega 3s to omega 6s balance.

These modified measurements and reference ranges can all be found in the Optimal Nutrition Health Dimension on your Arivale Dashboard.

In sum, new reference ranges and measurements apply to:

  • EPA
  • DHA
  • Linoleic Acid
  • Arachidonic Acid (AA)
  • EPA:AA ratio

Arivale’s commitment to Scientific Wellness sometimes involves challenging conventional norms if better evidence comes to light. Read more about our considerations behind our decision.

Please consult with your Arivale Coach if you have any questions about how this change may impact your scientific path to wellness.