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Chronic diseases, inflammation, memory

Omega 3

Research shows that omega-3 fatty acids has various health benefits. It helps lower risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer, and arthritis, reduce inflammation and support memory and cognitive performance.


Sufficient dietary omega-3 is beneficial for the general population, but it is especially important for people with certain genetic variants.

Diet rich in omega-3 is associated with  decreased risk of cardiovascular and other chronic diseases.


Omega-3 are essential fatty acids which our body cannot synthesize and have to obtain by diet. Omega-3 is a PUFA (PolyUnsaturated Fatty Acid). PUFAs functionality is mostly due to the double bonds in its carbon backbone. PUFAs regulate the fluidity of cell membrane, act as second messengers in intracellular signaling pathways, and regulate gene transcription.

Omega-3 is a PUFA having its first double-bond after the third carbon group. There are three main forms of omega-3 fatty acids: DHA (Docosa Hexaenoic Acid), EPA (Eicosa Pentaenoic Acid), and ALA (Alpha Linoleic Acid).

Most of the Omega 3’s health benefits are associated with DHA and EPA. These fats are found in fish such as salmon, mackerel, sardines and krill. Although unable to produce omega-3 acids, our body is able to convert ALA into DHA and EPA. ALA is found in certain nuts, seeds, and pastured animal foods like grass-fed beef and dairy.


FADS1 is a key enzyme in conversion of α-linolenic acid (ALA, C18:3ω-3) into long-chain PUFAs, DHA and EPA. 



Genomic coordinates (GRCh38): 11:61,799,624-61,817,056


Variations in the FADS1 gene may affect the efficiency of the enzyme. Carriers of the C allele, and especially homozygote carriers, show lower levels of DHA and EPA. The FADS1 T allele has greater activity, and its carriers show higher EPA and DPA levels.

The C allele is associated with higher triglyceride concentration, and lower HDL-cholesterol (the "good" cholesterol)

As seen in this graph, taken from a study of 4,635 individuals (60% females, 45–68 years) from the Swedish population-based Malmö Diet and Cancer cohort, homozygous CC individuals had significant reduction in HDL levels when their PUFA intake was low (less than 0.14% of total energy intake).

Increased intake of omega-3 is recommended for C carriers, and to a greater extent CC homozygotes. See report for further detail.

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