Included with each the 5 classes of fatty acids are “reference ranges.” The reference range is provided simply to give an idea of how these values compared to a large number of others taken from a relatively healthy population. In the case of the RBC (red blood cell) assay, the reference range was taken from approximately 11,000 individuals whose samples were submitted to the laboratory for analysis. In the case of the dried blood spot assay, the reference range was taken from approximately 27,000 individuals. No information regarding the state of health of any of these individuals is known. In both cases, the reference range encompasses 99% of the individuals in their respective populations. Although “average,” these are not necessarily “optimal” levels, i.e., target levels or levels that one should to attempt to achieve. The only results for which OmegaQuant feels justified in providing actual targets or optimal levels are the Omega-3 Index and Tran Fat Index since these have undergone the most research. As the research in this area matures, they may recommend new “target” values for other fatty acids or ratios when they believe that they have been adequately validated.
As noted above, OmegaQuant provides reference ranges for general information only, not to suggest or guide changes in diet. They do not believe that the research has advanced to the point where they can tell people who have a below (or above) “average” level of any given fatty acid class that they should try to change it. There are several reasons for this. First, since most fatty acid levels in the blood are not influenced by diet but are established by internal genetics and metabolism, even attempting to alter a fatty acid level by dietary change would be largely futile. Secondly, the lab doesn’t have the data at present to show that even if one could change fatty acid levels (again, except for the Omega-3 Index and trans fatty acids), it would benefit them to do so. So until further research convincingly demonstrates that raising or lowering a certain fatty acid or class is beneficial or not, OmegaQuant will take the conservative approach of simply giving each client the numbers, and they can track them as they wish.