Do I have the RIGHT fatty acids in my body?

Do I have the RIGHT fatty acids in my body?

Margie GanderSep 21, '20

Fats can be confusing. Many of my clients ask me: "should I be eating a low-fat diet?" or "if I supplement with omegas, should I take omega 3, 6, and 9?" or "if I have high, bad cholesterol, should I be supplementing with omega 3?". These are all great questions, so let's take a deeper dive. 

What are fats?

Fat is a macronutrient - the other two being protein and carbohydrates. Macronutrients are nutrients that provide calories or energy. Large amounts are required to sustain life, hence the term “macro". 

Fats are a calorie-dense nutrient, but they’re very important for your normal body functions, such as acting as the backbone to hormones, insulation for nerves, brain health, regulating inflammation, supporting healthy skin and hair. But not all fats are created equal and knowing the difference between them will help you to make the right dietary fat choices. While there are many types of fats (from saturated to monounsaturated to polyunsaturated), the main three you should focus on are trans fats, omega-3 fatty acids, and omega-6 fatty acids.

Trans fats are “bad fats” and have been consistently shown to increase the risk of coronary heart disease and weight gain, and should generally be avoided due to their pro-inflammatory effect in your body. They’re usually found in packaged foods and various brands of margarine.  (Quick tip: always read the food label to determine whether there is trans fat in the ingredients). 

Omega’s 3, 6 and 9 fats are what’s known as Essential Fatty Acids, or “EFA’s”. Similar to essential amino acids, your body can’t produce them by itself so you have to obtain them through your diet. Omega-3 fats can be found in fatty fish such as salmon, avocados, flax, fish oil, and walnuts (note that they’re better absorbed from animal sources), and omega-6 fats from pretty much all kinds of vegetable oil, such as flaxseed oil, grapeseed oil, sunflower seeds, and pine nuts. The goal is to increase the amount of Omega 3’s and limit the amount of Omega 6’s in your diet. Omega-9 fatty acids are monounsaturated, meaning they only have one double bond. Oleic acid is the most common omega-9 fatty acid and the most common monounsaturated fatty acid in the diet. Too much omega 6 and 9 in your diet can have a pro-inflammatory effect in your body. This is really important for those who have a genetic predisposition to inflammation. 

What are fatty acids?

When you eat fats, your body breaks these down into fatty acids that play a role in health and disease. Fatty acids are measured by the length of carbon acids in their fatty acid chain. These are:

    1. Short-Chain Fatty Acids (SHFA) are fatty acids with fewer than six carbon atoms. Derived from intestinal microbial fermentation of indigestible foods, SCFAs are the main energy source of colonocytes (colon cells), making them crucial to gastrointestinal health.
    2. Medium-Chain Fatty Acids (MCFA) are saturated or unsaturated fatty acids found at high concentrations in food such as coconut oil. MCFAs are quickly oxidized by the liver and thus less obesogenic than LCFAs.
    3. Long-Chain Fatty Acids (LCFA) 
    4. Eicosanoids that act as signaling molecules for the oxidation of polyunsaturated fatty acids. 

 Table 1: The types of fatty acids made from the various fat sources

Having knowledge about the source of your fatty acids is very helpful in understanding what in your diet could be driving your inflammation or that could help to support a better anti-inflammatory response.

Type of fat Fatty acid Food source Function 
Omega 6
AA (Arachidonic Acid)
High concentration in the fat of red meat. Is converted into the pro-inflammatory Series 2 eicosanoids.
Omega 3
ALA (Alpha-Linolenic Acid)
Plant oils such as flaxseed, soybean, and canola oils
Omega 6   
DGLA (Dihomogamma Linolenic Acid)
Borage Anti-inflammatory effect
Omega 3
DHA (Docosahexaenoic Acid)
Fish and other seafood
Anti-inflammatory effect. Ideal for brain health.
Omega 3 
EPA (Eicosapentaenoic Acid)
Fish and other seafood
Anti-inflammatory effect. Ideal for heart health. 
Omega 6 
GLA (Gamma Linolenic Acid)
Evening Primrose Oil A precursor to making the anti-inflammatory Series 1 eicosanoids
Omega 6 
LA (Linoleic Acid)
Vegetable oils Anti-inflammatory
Omega 9
Oleic acid 
Olive oil, Macadamia oil
The pro-inflammatory effect of oleic &linoleic acids may speed up the wound healing process.

Unsaturated Fats

Saturated fats

Total C:18 Trans-Isomers
Butter, heated animal fats, liquid fats, margarine  Pro-inflammatory effect


What biological processes are involved in fat metabolism?

Fat metabolism is involved in the many biological actions in your body. Knowing what these are will help you to better understand "why" and "when" your body needs fats for energy and health. 

The following tables will help you map your genotype to the fatty acids that act as nutrient cofactors to particular genes and their enzymes or proteins.   

Functional area Action  Genes

Adipogenesis - "Fat making"

Adipose tissue is commonly known as body fat. It is found all over the body. It can be found under the skin (subcutaneous fat), packed around internal organs (visceral fat), between muscles, within bone marrow and in breast tissue.  

Genetic variations in the following genes  can results in an increased rate of fat cell formation (adipogenesis). This would mean a low fat diet would be best:


Lipolysis - "Fatty acid making"
Breaks down fats and other lipids by hydrolysis to release fatty acids.

Genetic variations in the following genes can predispose you to being"slow" to make fatty acids from the fats you eat:



Beta oxidation - "The oxidation of fatty acids for energy"
Beta-oxidation is the catabolic process by which fatty acid molecules are broken down in the mitochondria to generate acetyl-CoA. This is done to make fatty acids available for energy. 

Genetic variations in key genes involved in this biochemical process could result in slow fat metabolism:



Triglycerides - "energy"



Triglycerides are a type of fat found in the blood that is used for energy

Genetic variations in these genes can result LDL cholesterol: 



Lipogenesis - "Turning fatty acids into fat stores"
Lipogenesis is the metabolic process through which acetyl-CoA is converted to triglyceride for storage in fat

Genetic variations in this gene can result in you being a "slower converter".


Lipid storage - "Fat storage"
One of the main functions lipids do is storing energy. If a person eats an excessive amount of food, lipids help store the energy in the form of fat molecules in the body to use later.

High impact genetic variations in this area of metabolism can led to you being a "fat storer".



Thermogenesis - "Fat burning"
Thermogenesis is defined as the dissipation of energy through the production of heat and occurs in specialised tissues including brown adipose tissue and skeletal muscle. 
Some hormones, such as norepinephrine and leptin, may stimulate thermogenesis by activating the sympathetic nervous system. Rising insulin levels after eating may be responsible for diet-induced thermogenesis (thermic effect of food). Progesterone also increases body temperature.

Medium to high impact genetic variations in the following genes can result in a lowered fat burning ability:


Lipoproteins - "cholesterol"
Based on their density, lipoproteins can be classified into chylomicrons, very low-density lipoproteins (VLDL), intermediate density lipoproteins (IDL), low-density lipoproteins (LDL), and high-density lipoproteins (HDL)


Genetic variations in these genes can results in a predisposition to developing to high levels of LDL "bad cholesterol"






How are fatty acids metabolised?

The recommended daily consumption of fat is 25-35% of total energy from dietary fat and less than 10% from saturated fats. But is this true for everybody?

Due to advances in genomics, we know that what is good for one person, may not be right for another. Testing for key genetic variations in the genes involved in the fatty acid synthesis, transportation of fatty acids in your body, lipid storage, lipolysis, glucose metabolism, and oxidation of fatty acids, can help you to personalise the type and amount of fat that you eat daily.  

To determine your unique genetic variation for these genes and how to personalise your macronutrients ratios, including your fats intake, you can order the GENEWELL + GENEDIET online here:



Who should be focused on their fatty acids?

Fatty acids not only are involved in energy or macronutrient metabolism, but they also play a vital role in nutrigenomics. You may already have one of the following health issue listed below or you may carry a genetic variation that requires additional fatty acids to upregulate or downregulate its expression.  Supplementing with the right omega's can provide effective nutrient cofactor support. 

Health concern Fatty acid  Genes involved  Supplement
Chronic, low-grade inflammation DHA is more effective in reducing inflammation, although DHA & EPA play a role. IL-1B, IL6, CRP4, IL6R, TNFa EPA-DHA 2400
Joint Health 
Triglyceride form is ideal for easy absorption of fatty acids EPA andDHA
All the inflammation genes
EPA-DHA 2400
Statin therapy/ Cardiovascular disease
Combining 1,800 milligrams (mg) of EPA with a 4 mg dose of statin each day significantly reduced the cholesterol plaques in heart blood vessels compared to taking the statin alone.
EPA-DHA 2400
Oxidative load Omega 3 supplementation has been linked to reduced oxidative stress GPX, EXPH1, MnSOD Alaskan Omega 3
Weight management The right quantity of healthy fats based can help support a healthy weight and blood lipid metabolism  ADIPOQ, PPARG, FTO, PLIN Mega 10
Cognitive decline and Alzheimer's Disease EPA and DHA fatty acids play a vital role in neuroprotection APOE4 OmegaGenics Neuro 1000
ADHD EPA and DHA support brain functions MTHFR, BDNF, ILs, CRP4, 
OmegaGenics Neuro 1000
PMS  GLA is a fatty acid cofactor in supporting PMS symptoms  Estrogen detox profile OmegaGenics GLA 240
Skin conditions like eczema 


A deficiency of EPA and DHA in the diet contributes to skin conditions, such as dandruff, thinning hair, eczema and psoriasis, as well as age and sun spots. Without essential fatty acids, too much moisture leaves the skin.

inflammation genes and GUT genes DHA EPA 720


How do I know where I am getting the right fats?

This Fatty Acids test measures key omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, trans-fatty acids, (the “bad” oils in processed foods), and important fatty acid ratios.

Along with this info, the report indicates whether or not you need to modify your diet and/or supplement with fatty acids. If diet changes or supplementation are needed, your report will include recommendations for which specific EFA's you need to supplement, and in what dosage. This enables you and your healthcare practitioner to create a very personalised optimal wellness protocol and get more worth from your monthly health budget. 

To take the guesswork out of your diet and supplementation, or to determine your levels of fatty acids to address some of your specific health concerns, you can order the FATTY ACID PROFILE online here:


Get started

If you would like to determine your genotype for the key genes involved in fat metabolism, your genotype for inflammation or measure and track your fatty acid levels to fine-tune the type, ratio, and amount of fatty acids, you can book a session with me below.



Marguerite Doig-Gander
BA (Speech, Hearing & Lang Therapy) Hons | FMCHC | ReCODE Coach | Men's Health |  Harvard Medical School Fundamentals in Genomics

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