Omega-3 fatty acids are good for health, but not for all people

Scientists have just proven that omega-3 fatty acids have beneficial effects on health, but not in every person, but only in people with a very specific genotype.

For years we have been told that omega-3 fatty acids, derived from fatty fish or oils, are a veritable mine of goodness for our health with beneficial effects on heart function (often recommended as prevention of cardiovascular disease), brain, vision, immunity and much more. Today, however, it turns out that this is not quite true, because such action is observed only in some people, those with the appropriate genes. In a way, this may explain why there have been several recent studies standing in opposition to common recommendations and suggesting that omega-3 intake has no positive effect – their authors probably conducted studies on the wrong group of people.

Scientists decided to test this by analyzing data from 70,000 people registered with the UK Biobank, and it quickly became clear that there were fundamental differences in the effects of fatty acid intake in people with different genotypes. A genetic variant called AG affecting the GJB2 gene actually benefited from taking fish-derived omega-3 supplements and can be linked to reduced triglyceride levels, but there is another variant, AA, in whom the same supplements caused elevated triglyceride levels. – We found that fish oil supplementation is not good for everyone; it depends on the genotype. If you have a specific genetic background, fish oil will help lower triglycerides. But if you have the wrong genotype for it, the effect will be the opposite and raise triglyceride levels, suggests study author Kaixiong Ye.

Of course, the researchers are aware of the limitations of the type of study they chose, but their results suggest that we should study this issue more closely because it may turn out that some people, following the advice of nutritionists and doctors, are harming themselves instead of helping. Moreover, as we pointed out at the beginning, this may be an explanation for the conflicting results on omega-3 fatty acids – A possible explanation for the results of these studies is that they did not take genotypes into account. Some participants may note positive effects and others may not, so if you mix them together and do analyses, you may not note any effect, Ye explains, adding in passing that it would be important to verify the recommendation that all patients take omega-3s, preceding supplementation with specific studies.

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