Recent research suggests that in addition to their many other health benefits, fish-oil supplements also can boost exercise performance. In a study published in Bioscience, Biotechnology, and Biochemistry, Japanese researchers hypothesized that because eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid — both found in fish oil — act as “blood thinners” (meaning they decrease blood viscosity), fish oil may improve blood flow and oxygen supply to tissues for increased exercise performance.
In a double-blind, placebo-controlled study, 20 fit college-age males took either 3.6 grams of fish oil or a placebo split into three daily doses for 56 days. Before and after those eight weeks of supplementation, subjects completed a series of both VO2 max and submaximal exercise tests.
As predicted, the researchers found that fish-oil supplementation increased red blood cell EPA and DHA content and decreased oxygen consumption during steady-state submaximal exercise (meaning they could work out longer). They also reported that subjects who took fish oil had reduced measures of perceived exertion — meaning the exercise felt easier to them when they took fish oil. The authors concluded that fish-oil supplementation improves exercise efficiency, which also may promote greater endurance.
Action Point:To get the optimum health and performance benefits of fish-oil supplementation, we suggest taking 1 to 2 grams of fish oil three to four times daily with meals.