fish oil

Why Athletes Need Fish Oil

When we’re talking about supplementation, there’s a few that I recommend to pretty much everyone; but fish oil always takes the top of the list especially for people who are active. Here’s why:

A Reduction in Reaction Time

A reduction in reaction time has been noted with fish oil supplementation in persons who consume low levels of fish in the diet. This is important for athletes in any sport, not just for exercise. Reaction time indicates mental acuity, something often lacking in today’s adults. Not only that, but those same persons experienced an increase in processing accuracy and an improvement in overall mood state (more vigour with less aggression, fatigue, and depression)1)Fontani, G., Corradeschi, F., Felici, A., Alfatti, F., Migliorini, S., Lodi, L.. (November 2005). Cognitive and physiological effects of Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid supplementation in healthy subjects.. Retrieved Dec 6, 2015, from PubMed.gov: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16269019.

Increased Fat Cell Energy

Fat oxidation (percentage of energy being taken from fat tissue) has been shown to be notably increased with fish oil supplementation2)Couet, C., Delarue, J., Ritz, P., Antoine, JM, Lamisse F.. (August 1997). Effect of dietary fish oil on body fat mass and basal fat oxidation in healthy adults.. Retrieved Dec 14, 2015, from PubMed.gov: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15481762. This is especially important for endurance athletes who need longer-term energy.

Vitamin D

Most people in the Western world vitamin D deficient for several reasons, including a lack of sunlight, you’re pregnant or obese, or you don’t supplement3)Vitamin D Council. (2015). Am I deficient in vitamin D?. Retrieved Dec 6, 2015, from Vitamin D Council: http://www.vitamindcouncil.org/about-vitamin-d/am-i-deficient-in-vitamin-d/. Vitamin D boosts your immune system, improves muscle function, and improves circulation and cardiovascular function. There are two ways to increase your vitamin D levels; expose your bare skin to sunlight for at least 30-60 minutes a day (and even that may not be enough), or use a supplement. Fish oil is a great way to boost your vitamin D levels. Optimal levels of vitamin D are 1,000 IUs – 2,000 IUs per day.

Omega3 Fatty Acids

Fish oil has a high omega-3-to-omega-6 ratio. In short, “…a very high omega-6/omega-3 ratio, as is found in today’s Western diets, promotes the pathogenesis of many diseases, including cardiovascular disease, cancer, and inflammatory and autoimmune diseases, whereas increased levels of omega-3 PUFA (a low omega-6/omega-3 ratio) exert suppressive effects.”4)Simopoulos, AP. (October 2002). The importance of the ratio of omega-6/omega-3 essential fatty acids. Retrieved Dec 14, 2015, from PubMed.gov: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12442909 For those of you that are paleo fanatics, a high omega-6/omega-3 ratio can also be caused by consuming unclean, factory-farmed meat (one of the many side effects of corn-fed cows), eggs from chickens that never see the light of day, and not eating enough seeds like chia and flax.

Anti-Inflammatory

And of course, the “I” word; inflammation. “When inflammation becomes chronic and systemic, when it ceases to be an acute response, when it becomes a constant low-level feature of your physiology that’s always on and always engaged, the big problems arise.”5)Sisson, Mark. (5 Jan 2013). What Is Inflammation? Retrieved Dec 12, 2015, from Mark’s Daily Apple: http://www.marksdailyapple.com/what-is-inflammation/ Fish oil can significantly reduce systemic inflammation in your body. With such nasty side effects as arthritis, cardiovascular disease, obesity, depression, and insulin resistance, there’s really no reason for anyone not to be drinking this stuff.

How Much Should I Take?

My general recommendation is to aim for around 2-4 grams of EPA/DHA per day. In general, you get more bang for your buck with a liquid supplement versus capsules. Always take fish oil with meals, and if you take too much, your digestive tract will tell you.

There are other benefits to taking fish oil that I won’t get into here. If the above benefits aren’t convincing enough, then we should have a chat about your current nutrition situation. My opinion is: if you’re active, take this stuff. If you’re not active, take this stuff. It’s that simple.

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References   [ + ]

1.Fontani, G., Corradeschi, F., Felici, A., Alfatti, F., Migliorini, S., Lodi, L.. (November 2005). Cognitive and physiological effects of Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid supplementation in healthy subjects.. Retrieved Dec 6, 2015, from PubMed.gov: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16269019
2.Couet, C., Delarue, J., Ritz, P., Antoine, JM, Lamisse F.. (August 1997). Effect of dietary fish oil on body fat mass and basal fat oxidation in healthy adults.. Retrieved Dec 14, 2015, from PubMed.gov: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15481762
3.Vitamin D Council. (2015). Am I deficient in vitamin D?. Retrieved Dec 6, 2015, from Vitamin D Council: http://www.vitamindcouncil.org/about-vitamin-d/am-i-deficient-in-vitamin-d/
4.Simopoulos, AP. (October 2002). The importance of the ratio of omega-6/omega-3 essential fatty acids. Retrieved Dec 14, 2015, from PubMed.gov: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12442909
5.Sisson, Mark. (5 Jan 2013). What Is Inflammation? Retrieved Dec 12, 2015, from Mark’s Daily Apple: http://www.marksdailyapple.com/what-is-inflammation/