ARE FISH OILS BENEFICIAL FOR ATHLETES?
Fish oil is a common term used to refer to two kinds of omega-3 fatty acids: eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). These omega-3 fats are usually found in oily fish, animal products, and phytoplankton.
The fatty acids EPA and DHA are involved in regulating various biological processes such as the inflammatory response, various metabolic signaling pathways, and brain function. They can be synthesized in the body from alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), but in small amounts for most people.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF SUPPLEMENTING WITH FISH OIL?
Fish oil causes a notable reduction in triglyceride levels, and a more modest reduction in blood pressure in people with already high blood pressure. Despite this, long-term trials haven't found a reduction in the rate of cardiovascular events.
A systematic review of 32 research papers by Lewis et al., (2020) found that fish oil supplementation consistently showed positive effects on:
Post training nitrous oxide responses
Reducing inflammation levels with doses of EPA ranging from 300 to 2400 mg/d, and of DHA from 400 to 1500 mg/d.
The review found no effect on:
In summary, supplementing with fish oil as an athlete makes sense if you aren’t able to achieve an effective dose through your food. Although fish oil supplementation won’t improve endurance or strength, it can provide a number of benefits as above.
WHAT ARE THE DOSES?
Fish oil doses vary depending on what the goal of supplementation is. For general health, 250mg of combined EPA and DHA is the minimum recommended dose and can be obtained via oily fish intake.
Lewis, N.A., Daniels, D., Calder, P.C., Castell, L.M. and Pedlar, C.R., 2020. Are there benefits from the use of fish oil supplements in athletes? A systematic review. Advances in Nutrition, 11(5), pp.1300-1314.