However, researchers at the University of Georgia have found that this substance is not always an ally of the heart. Depending on the genetics of the person who consumes it, fish oil can even have the opposite effect.
The study published in the scientific journal PLOS Genetics found that variations in the GJB2 gene can alter the behavior of Omega 3 fatty acid in the regulation of triglycerides, a type of blood fat that, at a high level, can aggravate the risk of heart disease. Currently, some experts indicate the substance for the opposite reason: it would help to reduce excess triglycerides:
“What we found is that fish oil supplementation is not good for everyone; it depends on your genotype. If you have a specific genetic background, supplementing with fish oil will help reduce your triglycerides. But if you don’t have the genotype right, taking a fish oil supplement actually increases your triglycerides, “says Kaixiong Ye, professor of genetics at the University of Georgia and one of the study’s coordinators.
To reach this conclusion, Ye’s team examined four blood lipids (fats) from samples from about 70,000 individuals. In addition to triglycerides, high-density lipoproteins, low-density lipoproteins and total cholesterol were also analyzed.
The samples were divided into two groups, those who took fish oil supplements (about 11 thousand) and those who did not consume the food. Next, the researchers scanned the entire genome for each group, testing 8 million genetic variants to compare.
After running more than 64 million tests, the results revealed a significant genetic variant in the GJB2 gene. Individuals with the AG genotype who took fish oil decreased their triglycerides. On the other hand, those with the AA genotype slightly increased their triglycerides when consuming this food. (A third possible genotype, GG, was not evident in study volunteers sufficiently to draw conclusions).
The research findings may also shed light on previous trials, most of which found that fish oil offers no benefit in preventing cardiovascular disease.
“One possible explanation is that these clinical trials did not consider the participants’ genotypes,” said Ye. “Some participants can benefit, others cannot, so if you mix them up and do the analysis, you won’t see the impact.”
The next step now will be to directly test the effects of fish oil on cardiovascular disease. “Customizing and optimizing fish oil supplementation recommendations based on a person’s unique genetic makeup can improve our understanding of nutrition and lead to significant improvements in human health and well-being,” says the researcher.
For those who want to see if they have the right genotype for the benefits of fish oil, Ye says it is possible to find this information amid the raw data from the DNA test. For that, it is necessary to look at the specific position to discover the genotype. According to the researcher, the identification of this variant is rs112803755 (A> G).
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