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Is Testing for Genotype the Future of Nutrition?

What do you think?

Gloved hand holding test tube of genotype

It looks like our genotype determines how much benefit, or perhaps detriment, we derive from a fish oil supplement. The use of fish oil supplements was associated with reduced triglyceride levels for subjects with one gene variant of the GJB2 gene, but those with a different version of the gene showed slightly higher levels, according to research published in PLOS Genetics.

High blood triglycerides can be a risk factor for heart and liver disease, so knowing if they are likely to go up or down with higher fish oil intake based on genotype would be good to know. And this suggests that clinical trials which are looking at the link between fish oil and health measures should take into account the genotype of participants.

A separate study in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise that also addressed gene disparities among people discovered that athletes with high iron levels but who possess a genotype that places them at low risk for hemochromatosis (a condition in which the body absorbs too much iron leading to organ and joint damage) appear to have an advantage when it comes to greater oxygen carrying capacity in the blood during exercise resulting in improved performance. But increasing iron intake might not be ideal for athletes who already have the elevated risk genotype for iron overload.

Do you think that personalizing nutrition recommendations through genetic testing will become a more common practice? Will testing genetics to optimize nutrition status have a noticeable impact on human health and well-being? Would you be interested in determining your genotype using direct-to-consumer genetic testing companies? Send your answers to Sandy Todd Webster at [email protected].

See also: Fitness Genetics Impact Exercise Outcomes


Matthew Kadey, MS, RD

Matthew Kadey, MS, RD, is a James Beard Award–winning food journalist, dietitian and author of the cookbook Rocket Fuel: Power-Packed Food for Sport + Adventure (VeloPress 2016). He has written for dozens of magazines, including Runner’s World, Men’s Health, Shape, Men’s Fitness and Muscle and Fitness.

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