Omega-3 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids in the Optimization of Physical Performance

By: Shei RJ, Lindley MR, Mickleborough TD
Publication Name: Military Medicine
Year: 2014

Increased oxidative stress and inflammatory responses among individuals performing strenuous exercise, elite athletes, or military personnel have been consistently reported. In addition, it is known that exhaustive and/or unaccustomed exercise can lead to muscle fatigue, delayed onset muscle soreness, and a decrement in performance. Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (ω3PUFAs) have been shown to decrease the production of inflammatory eicosanoids, cytokines, and reactive oxygen species, to possess immunomodulatory effects, and to attenuate inflammatory diseases. Although, a number of studies have assessed the efficacy of ω3PUFA supplementation on red blood cell deformability, muscle damage, inflammation, and metabolism during exercise, only a few studies have evaluated the impact of ω3PUFA supplementation on exercise performance. This review demonstrates that, at present, we cannot conclude the hypothesis that ω3PUFA supplementation is effective and ergogenic, and that the data is inconclusive whether ω3PUFA supplementation effectively attenuates the inflammatory and immunomodulatory response to exercise. Future human studies should assess the effectiveness of ω3PUFA supplementation on delayed onset muscle soreness, and subsequent exercise performance, in multisport athletes and military personnel who typically engage in more than one bout of exercise per day using a more robust research design than those that have been used in previous studies.