Studies have already shown that omega-3 fatty acids may improve athletic performance and reduce post-exercise soreness, but there’s yet another reason for athletes to make taking an omega-3 supplement part of your routine — you could get some much-need immune system support.*
A placebo-controlled study of 37 healthy young men and women (average age 25.8) published last year found that taking an omega-3 supplement supported the normal healthy functioning of the immune system.*
Participants completed a cycling time trial before and after taking 2 grams of krill oil per day (providing 240 mg EPA and 110 mg DHA) for six weeks. Researchers took blood samples before and after supplementation, at three different intervals: at rest and one and three hours after exercise.
The results? The omega-3s increased the cyclists’ production of IL-2 (a molecule that regulates immune cells), as well as the activity of natural killer (NK) cells (white blood cells that serve as the immune system’s first line of defense.)* The results were similar for men and for women.[i]
Improving immune responsiveness is important for athletes because for several hours after intense exercise, the immune system is often depressed by as much as 60 percent! This can leave athletes who exercise daily vulnerable to immune challenges.
Previous research has found similar results, but what made this study different is that it used a different and lower dose of omega-3s, providing only a quarter of the DHA and EPA dose that had been tested earlier.
If you exercise frequently throughout the year, and especially in the upcoming colder months, eating a diet high in omega-3 rich foods — such as salmon and other fatty fish, walnuts, or flax and chia seeds — or taking an omega-3 supplement makes good sense.
* This statement has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, cure, treat, or prevent any disease.
[i] Da Boit M. PLoS One. 2015 Sep 25;10(9): e0139174.