- It facilitates recovery, since it has anti-inflammatory properties
- Increases testosterone levels
- It can help prevent cardiovascular diseases through reducing triglyceride levels
Fish oil contains essential fatty acid omega-3 (a “good” fat) in a particularly powerful form. Research has shown that about 90 % of US population don’t get enough of healthy fats like the ones that can be found in fish oil. So, many use fish oil supplements to improve their performance and general well-being.
omega-3, EPA, DHA
Fish oils can be found in fish that live in cold water like salmon, mackerel, tuna, trout, Atlantic halibut or sardine.
Note: All kinds of fish oil break down quickly when exposed to light, heat or metals.
Impact on improving performance
Why athletes use fish oil
Not only athletes but people of different backgrounds use fish oil to improve the general health of their key organs including the immune system, the cardiovascular system, the nervous system or the reproductive organs. People who live an active lifestyle experience that fish oils and other essential fatty acids are not only inevitable for health but they improve performance as well. Diminishing catabolism, inflammation and reducing recovery time; supporting muscle growth and stimulating hormone secretion; preserving the health of joints and connective tissues: these are all precious properties for any athlete.
How it enhances muscle gains and recovery
- Reduces inflammation in the muscles and joints, thus facilitating recovery.
- Preserves the health and structure of connective tissues and joints
- Increases testosterone levels for optimal muscle gains
How it contributes to long life
- It reduces triglyceride levels dramatically, which can help prevent cardiovascular diseases
Symptoms of fish oil deficiency
No known deficiency symptoms.
Based on studies, fish oil may be useful in the treatment of the following symptoms:
- Skin problems, such as eczema or psoriasis
- Skin allergies
- Cardiovascular diseases
- Inflammatory bowel disease
- Hypertension (high blood pressure)
- Painful menstrual periods
Fish oil contains a powerful essential fatty acid called omega-3. But unlike many other omega-3 fatty acids, fish oil contains large amounts of linolenic acid, which transforms into EPA (eicosepanteanoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid). These essential fatty acids are necessary for the production of prostaglandin hormones. These hormones form from alpha linolenic acid and are essential for normal brain functions as well as for the regulation of blood pressure and immune responses.
Research has shown that EPA and DHA reduce triglyceride levels dramatically, which significantly reduces the risk of cardiovascular diseases. A study was published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition recently, which examined the effect of omega-3 fatty acids on optimizing blood pressure and reducing ischemic heart disease. During the 7-week experiment, 38 middle-aged men and women with high cholesterol levels were given either EPA, DHA or placebo. While the placebo group didn’t experience any change, both groups that were given omega-3 fatty acids experienced significantly lower total triglyceride levels in the blood plasma, which reduced cardiovascular risk by improving the flexibility of long arteries.
Research has also shown that being the most important essential fatty acid in the central nervous system, DHA also impacts the mood. Based on studies, people with low DHA levels are more prone to depression.
Besides their common positive impact on the heart and possible positive impact on the mood, essential fatty acids also regulate prostaglandin levels. Prostaglandins are essential hormone-like substances and are necessary for the normal function of several important organs like the immune system, the cardiovascular system, the nervous system or the reproductive organs.
What does performance have to do with it?
Fish oils can have a positive impact on performance in several ways. Research has shown that essential fatty acids in fish oil reduce muscle catabolism, support muscle growth, reduce recovery time after workout, facilitate oxygen transport from the lungs to the blood stream and support several metabolic and endocrine functions.
Furthermore, research has shown a close correlation between a diet that is low on omega-3 fatty acids and the reduction of testosterone production. For example, a study has shown that the testosterone levels of people on a diet that contained 36% fat were 22% higher than those of people on a diet of 7% fat.
This result has aroused the interest of athletes on low-fat diets. Since testosterone is of key importance in increasing muscle size and strength, athletes on low-fat diets have to make a compromise when it comes to muscle gains. However, you should keep in mind that this is not true to all kinds of fat in general. We are talking about the “good” unsaturated fats (omega-3 essential fatty acids), not about saturated fats which can be found in burgers and fries and which will block your arteries.
Omega-3 fatty acids are the most powerful substances to support cell membrane production, thus protecting the cells from harmful effects and preserving their structural integrity. For this reason, fish oil is often recommended to patients who suffer from arthritis or other painful joint diseases. Research has shown that omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil hydrate dry and fragile joints, diminish inflammation and help preserve the health and structure of the connective tissues around the joints.
What is the truth?
Feeding on fast food is not the solution. If it was, most of the people in the USA wouldn’t need to worry whether they are getting enough essential fatty acids. The real challenge is to provide sufficient “good” fat intake. Actually, 90 % of US population don’t get enough of healthy fats like the ones that can be found in fish oil.
Eating much sea-fish can be a solution, still success cannot be guaranteed this way. Unfortunately, there are many factors that can block the transformation of linolenic acid into EPA and DHA including excessive alcohol consumption, zinc deficiency, a diet high on sugar and processed vegetables or high cholesterol levels. For this reason, many use fish oil dietary supplements that are rich in linolenic acid and omega-3 fatty acids.
Indications for use
Some scientists recommend 2 to 9 grams (1-2 teaspoonfuls) for preventing omega-3 fatty acid deficiency and 9 to 18 grams to ensure optimal health and performance. Based on studies, even 2.6 grams a day can reduce arthritis pain.
Fish oil is best taken with meals (as a part thereof).
If you consume it with a warm liquid, you might easily get that common fishy breath. And this can be embarrassing if you, say, have a date or a private conversation with your friends.
Synergists of fish oil
No known synergists.
Fish oil toxicity
No known toxicity.
Contra-indication and restrictions
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