Since the early 1970’s, fish oil has been touted for several health benefits including cardiovascular protection. Danish scientists, Dr. Hans Olaf Bang and Dr. Jorn Dyerberg conducted research on the Intuit people of Greenland and their lack of cardio vascular disease. Their conclusion was that their diet, which is almost exclusively fish, seal and whale blubber, had to be the reason for their lack of cardiovascular disease, and in particular, the cardio protective benefits of fatty acids like Omega-3’s found in their diet. These finding led to an explosion of fish oil supplements being sold world wide for the prevention of cardiovascular disease, with estimates saying that up to 10% of Americans take a fish oil supplement for their cardiovascular health. Unfortunately, recent studies have suggested that their may not be a strong correlation between the two after all. In fact, some studies show that there is no evidence to support the theory that Omega-3’s found in fish oil supplements help prevent cardiovascular disease.
Then why do the Intuit people seem to have very little cardiovascular disease? Researchers are now pointing to their genetics, and in particular a genetic mutation that allows them to process a diet high in fatty acids such as Omega-3’s, as the reason their body can handle the amounts of Omega-3’s they consume. Dr. Nielson and co-workers have discovered this genetic mutation that is prevalent within the Intuit DNA which may explain why their bodies can adapt to the high levels of Omega-3’s, and why their seems to be little evidence to support that fish oil supplements have a benefit for the general population. It’s entirely possible that with the much extra omega-3 within their diet, the Inuit developed a method to bring bloodstream amounts of essential fatty acids back to a proper balance. “It appears that the genetic adaptation has counteracted our prime consumption of omega-3 essential fatty acids,” stated Marit E. Jorgensen, a co-author from the new study on the College of South Denmark. Still, there are many who say that fish oil supplements can have a benefit in other areas such as alzheimers, cancer, and other medical conditions including cardiovascular. Most studies on cardiovascular benefits with fish oils focus on prevention of further events. New studies are focusing on preventing initial events, which could have an enormous impact on healthcare(1).
We are learning so much about how our own genetic map determines if something is beneficial to us or harmful. This why we have started to use Pathway Genomics genetic testing here at the Advanced Life Clinic. We can now match you to the diet that your body responds to, as well as what supplements and exercise regimen works best for you. It helps take the guesswork out of our healthcare, and gives you answers that are best for you. There are actually several tests available, and may possibly be covered by insurance. Call us today for a consultation on wellness and genetic testing, and we can get you started on taking control of your healthcare. Come see how we can help you live an Advanced Life here at the Advanced Life Clinic.