Over the past decade, numerous studies have praised fish oil for its many health and exercise benefits. The omega-3 fatty acids found in cold water fish have been shown to reduce inflammation, increase cardiovascular health, increase the efficiency of the heart during exercise, maintain healthy blood lipid profiles, increase fat metabolism, and boost lean mass gain.
Recently, a team of researchers from the University of Toronto have revealed yet another great fitness benefit to omega-3 fatty acid supplementation. In this randomized and placebo controlled trial, published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, researchers sought to evaluate the effect of short-term seal oil supplementation on neuromuscular-function and physical-performance in highly trained athletes (described as young men who have trained in summer Olympic strength sports for greater than12-hours per week for more than 2 years). Participants ingested seal omega-3 oil twice daily (5 g total, combined with 1000 iu vitamin D3) or an olive oil placebo (with 1000 iu vitamin D3 added), for 21 days during training. Athletes were tested for maximum voluntary contraction (MVC) of quadriceps and muscle activation (EMG), and anaerobic power (Wingate) before and after 21 days supplementation. The authors reported that subjects who received the mammalian omega-3 oil supplement had up to a 24% increased muscle activation during contraction and 12% less fatigue during anaerobic power testing versus placebo.
ACTION POINT: Although the mechanisms for these novel effects remain to be elucidated, the results from this study are likely due to omega-3’s effects on acetylcholine (the primary neurotransmitter for muscle contraction) bioavailability and/or improved motor nerve conduction. To take advantage of all the health and exercise benefits of fish oil, take 1 to 3 grams of high DHA and EPA fish oil with breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
Lewis EJ, Radonic PW, Wolever TM, Wells GD. 21 days of mammalian omega-3 fatty acid supplementation improves aspects of neuromuscular function and performance in male athletes compared to olive oil placebo. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2015 Jun 18;12:28.