Review highlights omega-3 benefits for athletes

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The review, which focused solely on randomized, placebo-controlled trials (RCTs) in athletes, found that fish oil supplements had beneficial effects on a number of health endpoints, including cognition, cardiovascular health, muscle regeneration, and immune health.

“We report consistent effects for [fish oil supplementation] on reaction time, mood, cardiovascular dynamics in cyclists, recovery of skeletal muscles, the pro-inflammatory cytokine TNF-alpha and post-exercise NO responses, ”the researchers wrote in Advances in Nutrition.

“There were no clear effects on endurance performance, lung function, muscle strength or training adaptation.” .

“Impressed by the number of advantages identified”.

Harry Rice, PhD, Vice President of Regulatory and Scientific Affairs at the Global Organization for EPA and DHA Omega-3 Fatty Acids (GOED), independently commented on the results of the study and told NutraIngredients-USA: “I was impressed with the number of the identified benefits. At the same time, I’m a little baffled after reading reports of low omega-3 indices in college athletes. If athletes want to optimize their performance, it is time to understand the value of omega-3 fatty acids (EPA / DHA). .

“Athletes, like the rest of the population, need to be educated about the benefits of omega-3 fatty acids. While everyone should have adequate EPA / DHA supplies, athletes have increased demands on their bodies that may require even higher EPA / DHA intakes than the general population, “said Dr. Rice.

Check out the highlights.

The benefits have been seen in a number of sports including soccer. Image © Getty Images / Ryan McVay

The reviewers, led by Nathan Lewis of the English Institute of Sport at the University of Bath, England, identified 32 articles that met their inclusion criteria. Athletes’ skills ranged from recreational to elite and included Olympic and professional sports. The omega-3 doses ranged from 300 to 2400 mg / d EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and 400 to 1500 mg / d DHA (docosahexaenoic acid). Seventy percent of the RCTs focused on men.

Lewis et al. found that inflammation was the most studied variable in the publications, and while a consistent effect for attenuating TNF-alpha production was observed, the data for other markers of inflammation were inconsistent.

Consistent effects for muscle regeneration were seen when looking at variables such as sore muscles, reverse movement jump, and creatine kinase activity, they added.

Regarding the potential cognitive benefits of a fish oil supplement, positive effects on reaction time and mood states were noted that were consistent across all sports, from rugby to soccer and from athletics to karate.

In view of the research gaps, the reviewers called for future studies to measure biomarkers with omega-3 status and to assess the possible effects of a high and low omega-3 status on “neuromuscular performance, bone metabolism, rehabilitation after injuries (e B. Surgical Interventions “compared to non-surgical outcomes including bone stress), [exercise-induced bronchoconstriction], Disease risk and risk of sudden cardiac death in athletes.

“Finally the future [fish oil supplementation] Studies should include effect sizes and analyze the supplement for impurities and have the content of the supplement checked independently of the manufacturer. “

Source: Advances In Diet
nmaa050, doi: 10.1093 / progressions / nmaa050
“Are there any benefits to using fish oil supplements in athletes? A systematic review “
Authors: NA Lewis et al.

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