Do athletes need fish oil supplements?




In a previous blog we covered briefly what fish oil is and what omega 3 fatty acids are. We also looked at some health claims. Here we will look at the potential benefits for athletes.


Why would athletes need fish oil?

Despite 100+ publications investigating fish oil supplements in athletes over the past 25 years, there were no systematic reviews collating the evidence and providing a consensus of opinion, specifically for the evidence in elite athletes;

It is known that training leads to improvements in omega-3 status, namely increases in the Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA (22:6n–3)) content of cell membranes [2], which may result in athletes by virtue of years of training having less or no need for supplementation with fish oil supplements. However, expert groups, such as the International Olympic Committee and the American College of Sports Medicine were either reportedly, “unclear if fish oil supplements should be pursued by athletes” or offered no guidance. Therefore a comprehensive analysis of the existing literature was performed.


What did we find?

We found that fish oil supplements exert consistent positive effects on cognition and mood, cardiovascular dynamics (in cyclists), and muscle recovery. In addition, that fish oil supplements attenuate pro-inflammatory cell responses (i.e., TNF-alpha) and increased lipid peroxidation and post-exercise nitric oxide. No benefits for fish oil supplements were seen on endurance exercise performance, training adaptations, muscle force, or lung function (other than in cases of exercise induced bronchoconstriction (EIB)).


"... fish oil supplements exert consistent positive effects on cognition and mood, cardiovascular dynamics (in cyclists), and muscle recovery".
No benefits for fish oil supplements were seen on endurance exercise performance, training adaptations, muscle force, or lung function

Negative eff