Fats: Fish Oil Supplements are derived from the body or liver of coldwater fish. They are a rich source of the omega-3 fatty acids DHA(Docosahexaenoic acid) and EPA(Eicosapentaenoic acid). Omega-3’s are essential fatty acids(EFAs), meaning that they are essential to our bodies to function properly. Not only are they essential, but they also need to be in balance with the omega-6 fatty acids(in a 1:1 ratio) that we consume for optimal health. Including omega-3’s in supplemental form is important because there are very few dietary sources that we can get them from, while sources of omega-6’s are easy to find, and we typically do not need to worry about supplementing with them. Fish oil supplements have many health benefits, including joint health(4), proper brain function(2), proper circulation(5), cardiovascular health(1,3,5), and a healthy inflammation response.(4)
One benefit of particular interest to the bodybuilder or strength athlete is the benefit of a healthy inflammation response. Hard training causes an inflammation response in the muscle tissue known as DOMS(delayed-onset muscle soreness). This inflammation response is not a bad thing, and we are not looking to eliminate it. We do, however, want to normalize it to achieve optimal recovery time between workouts. Using fish oil supplements can actually reduce the time that it takes to physically recover between workouts.
Fish oil supplements also help maintain healthy joints, which is absolutely essential for keeping up training intensity and frequency and for preventing injury. The cardiovascular benefits of fish oil may be of interest to athletes using prohormones or steroids as a way to maintain healthy cholesterol levels and blood pressure while on cycle, as fish oil has been shown to help in both of these areas.(1,3)
When choosing a fish oil supplement, the amount of omega-3’s per gram of fish oil is what is important. Fish oils supplements will generally have anywhere in the range of 300-900 milligrams of combined EPA and DHA per gram of fish oil. A good guideline for dosage is 1-3 grams of actual DHA/EPA per day. For a fish oil supplement with 500 mg EPA/DHA per soft gel that would mean 2-6 soft gels per day in 2 or more divided doses with meals.
1. Morris MC, Sacks F, & Rosner B. (1993). Does fish oil lower blood pressure? A meta-analysis of controlled trials. Circulation. 88(2), 523-33.
2. Yurko-Mauro K. (2010). Cognitive and cardiovascular benefits of docosahexaenoic acid in aging and cognitive decline. Current Alzheimer Research. 7(3), 190-6.
3. Saify ZS, Ahmed F, Akhtar S, Siddiqui S, Arif M, Hussain SA, & Mushtaq N. (2003). Biochemical studies on marine fish oil part-I: effects of fish oil and lipid lowering drugs on HDL/LDL cholesterol levels. Pakistan Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences. 16(2), 1-8.
4. de Roos B, Geelen A, Ross K, Rucklidge G, Reid M, Duncan G, Caslake M, Horgan G, & Brouwer IA. (2008). Identification of potential serum biomarkers of inflammation and lipid modulation that are altered by fish oil supplementation in healthy volunteers. Proteomics. 8(10), 1965-74.
5. Simão AN, Lozovoy MA, Simão TN, Dichi JB, Matsuo T, & Dichi I. (2010). Nitric oxide enhancement and blood pressure decrease in patients with metabolic syndrome using soy protein or fish oil. Arquivos Brasileiros De Endocrinologia E Metabologia. 54(6), 540-5.