Should I Take Omega-3 Supplements?

Not necessarily, ask your DNA, it might be beneficial but might be also harmful based on your genetic make-up!

Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids are polyunsaturated fats (PUFAs), both of which are essential for normal metabolism and our health.

The major dietary sources of omega-3 fatty acids include foods, such as flaxseed and walnuts, as well as fish oils and fish such as salmon.

Processed foods often contain high levels of omega-6, while healthy sources of omega-6 include olives, nuts and poultry.

Historically, the ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fats in the diet was maintained close to a healthy 1:1, while in the current Western diet it is estimated to be about 15:1.

Interestingly, some people have decreased omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids in their blood due to their genetic make-up. DNA testsing kits make predictions if an individual needs an omega-3 supplement based on the DNA test results.

Furthermore, in some percentage of the population, omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids supplements have beneficial effects on improving cholesterol levels and decreasing the risk of cardiovascular diseases. On the other hand, in some percentages of the population, with a certain genetic profile, increasing intake of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids (with taking fish oil supplements or other sources) might be harmful, due to lessening HDL-cholesterol concentrations (good cholesterol).

Food sources of Omega-3 fatty acids

The major dietary source of Omega-3 fatty acid ALA  is plant oils  including walnut, clary sage seed oil, flaxseed oil, while sources of animal omega−3 fatty acids EPA and DHA include fish such as, fish oils, eggs from chickens fed EPA and DHA, and squid oils.

Omega-3 fatty acids

The three types of omega-3 fatty acids important for human physiology are ALA (alpha-linolenic acid), found in plant oils, as well as   EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (Docosahexaenoic acid), both mainly found in marine oils. Humans are unable to synthesize the omega-3 fatty acid ALA and must be provided by our diet. The Omega-3 fatty acid ALA is then utilized to form long-chain omega-3 fatty acids EPA and then from EPA make DHA. However synthesis of Omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA in our body is not always sufficient. The ability to make the longer-chain omega-3 fatty acids (EPA and DHA) from ALA might be impaired in aging.

Omega-3 test: DNA testing predicts if an individual needs omega-3 supplements

In recent genome-wide association studies that included over 10,000 people, it was found that those with the C/C or C/T genotypes at a variant in the FADS1 gene, which codes for one of the enzymes involved in processing omega-6 and omega-3 fats, had “Decreased” blood levels of arachidonic acid (AA), a long-chain omega-6 fat, as well as eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), a long-chain omega-3 fat.

On the other hand, those with a T/T genotype had “Typical” levels of these two omega-fats. Since both AA and EPA are precursors of biologically important metabolites, those with a “Decreased” outcome should increase their dietary intake of both omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids. However, considering the current skewed ratio of omega-6:omega-3 fats, it is recommended that people monitor the intake of omega-6 fats from processed foods, while increasing their intake of omega-3 fats.

Intake of omega-3 supplements does not have always beneficial impacts

Furthermore, some studies have found that increasing intake of the omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids in some individuals with specific variations in the Apolipoprotein A-I gene (APOA1) improve the cholesterol levels and decrease cardiovascular disease risk. Hence, these people are provided with individualized nutritional advice that they should take omega-3 supplements to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. However, increasing intake of the omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids in some people with certain variations in the APOA1  gene leads to a reduction in the HDL-cholesterol (good cholesterol)  and increased risk of cardiovascular disease. These people should receive the opposite nutritional advice not to take the omega-3 fatty acid supplements.

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