Most health-conscious people have heard of omega-3 essential fats. As with most dietary considerations, there is a confusing array of choices to make and advice to heed. Here at FitnessGenes, we fully understand that most articles you read will be entirely too generic to be useful, so we’re going to take a little look at how to decide which sources and amounts of Omega-3s are ideal for you based on your genetic profile.
The most common highly-concentrated sources of omega-3 are fish and flax oil but recent additions include krill, chia, and canola (rapeseed) oils. These types of fats must be obtained in the diet because our bodies cannot produce them and getting optimum amounts of these healthy fats has been associated with lower rates of cardiovascular disease, inflammation and other illnesses. But how do we know which fats are best and how much we should consume? Well, as with most dietary considerations, there’s no single correct answer for everyone and a major determinant is your genetics.
How Your Genes Should Influence Your Food Choices
For example, when FitnessGenes scientists looked at the APOA5 gene variation, they found that some common fats can increase triglycerides in people who carry the AG or GG alleles. High triglyceride levels are associated with increased heart disease risk and poor metabolic health. One of the best ways to decrease triglycerides is to consume adequate amounts of omega-3, so we advise that people with “AG” and “GG” variations of the APOA5 gene should consume more of these “healthy fats” (along with other strategies that are included in your FitnessGenes Report).
However, the amount you should consume also depends upon the source. Animal sources, like fish and krill, contain EPA and DHA - the forms of omega-3 that humans and animals ultimately require for optimum cell function and hormone production. Plant sources (as from flax, chia and canola) contain alpha linolenic acid (ALA) which must be converted to EPA and DHA. The problem is this conversion is very inefficient and only about 5%-15% ever gets converted to the two essential animal forms. The World Health Organization suggests a daily intake of 0.3-0.5 grams of EPA + DHA and a daily ALA intake of about 1 gram. Remember though, because of the poor conversion rate, if you don’t get EPA and DHA from fish (or krill or grass-fed beef or omega-3 eggs) or a fish oil supplement, then you need to up your ALA intake quite a bit which may not be ideal for your overall calorie intake.
Of course, omega-3 is also famous for its ability to reduce inflammation which can occur after intense exercise and is a risk factor for heart disease as well as being associated with several other ailments. Interestingly, people with certain variations of genes like FTO, ACTN3, UCP2 and PGC1A have been shown to experience increased inflammation, so this is another factor you should consider when deciding the sources and amounts of omega-3 you consume.
FitnessGenes provides recommendations on fat intake including omega-3 sources in relation to your levels of inflammation that impact your risk of oxidative stress. For example, those who have a combination of AA/AV and GG/GS for UCP2 and PGC1A respectively, are not given the recommendation to consume fats from such Omega-3 sources due to not being at an increased risk of oxidative damage.
So the take-home message is that you should consume both animal and plant sources of omega-3s but you should be particularly careful to ensure that you consume enough of the fish or animal sources if you have certain genetic variations which have been shown to make you more susceptible to having high levels of triglycerides or inflammation. Your FitnessGenes DNA test can reveal these and other interactions between nutrition and your genetic profile, so stop guessing as to what’s best for you and Get Your Genes Tested and Your Genetically Tailored Nutrition and Training Program Today!