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Fatty Acid Desaturase 1


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Fatty acid desaturase 1 (FADS1) is an enzyme which desaturates fatty acids by introducing double bonds into their structure, and is encoded for by the FADS1 gene.

Dietary fats typically fall into one of two categories, saturated and unsaturated 1. In saturated fats all the bonds between carbon atoms in the fatty acid chain are single, whereas in unsaturated fats some carbon atoms can be linked by double bonds. The science of this is discussed in more detail in the following post as the health impacts of saturated and unsaturated fats is an area of great debate.

Briefly, historical studies proposed that very high levels of saturated fat led to an increase in cholesterol levels, which congealed inside the blood vessels resulting in poor heart health, and so people were encouraged to transition away from saturated fats towards unsaturated fats 2. However, more recent studies have shown that the double bonds in unsaturated fats are susceptible to lipid peroxidation, which can generate harmful free-radicals, which can damage the lining of blood vessels 3.

The exact dietary implications of this conflicting research is unclear, although it is worth noting that the USDA Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee in 2015 reversed their recommendation that people limit dietary cholesterol intake 4.

As one of the enzymes responsible for converting saturated fats in unsaturated equivalents, FADS1 is clearly of great interest. There is a single SNP associated with poor health outcomes, rs174547 or T61803311C.


Science Grade
Heart Health
rsID Number Major Allele Minor Allele Minor Allele Frequency (%)
rs174547 t c 30

Risk Description

The SNP T61803311C or rs174547 is associated with altered lipid profiles with the ‘C’ allele being associated with reduced LDL cholesterol levels in individuals on a diet low in unsaturated fats 5. This correlated with an earlier study which showed that the largest effects related to this SNP were observed in those with a low unsaturated fat intake 6.

However, it is unclear what, if any, health effects are associated with this SNP as it remains unclear how exactly saturated and unsaturated fats impact health, as such it is not currently possible to provide specific nutrient guidelines.

Lifestyle Considerations:

Observe lipid intake

It remains unclear how exactly saturated and unsaturated fat intake and the SNP T61803311C or rs174547 interact. As this area of research is under constant our understating is likely to improve rapidly. Therefore, while no current nutrient advice can be provided, it is worthwhile considering your lipid intake, and keeping this polymorphism in mind for later study.

Discuss this information with your doctor before taking any course of action.

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