Term Paper: Omega-3 Fat Intake and Athlete

Pages: 4 (1471 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 6  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Health - Nutrition  ·  Buy This Paper


[. . .] The bottom line here is that for athletes that engage in very intensive activities and competitions the effect of possible muscle damage can be at least partially mitigated through the use of omega-3 fatty acid supplements.

Another research article in a peer-reviewed publication (Journal of Sports Science and Medicine) points to the benefits of omega-3 fatty acid in elite female soccer players. Jose Guzman and colleagues set out to see whether omega-3 fatty acids will improve "neuromotor function" -- and using 24 world class female soccer players from Spain's Super League they did indeed verify that omega-3 supplements can improve neuromotor functions (Guzman, et al., 2011). The authors point out that most of the previous research involving omega-3 has focused on decreasing or "delaying fatigue" and reducing the "oxidative stress" on muscles (Guzman, 301).. But Guzman and colleagues were seeking to prove that there are indeed additional benefits from omega-3, which contains docosahexacnoic acid (DHA).

In a "double-blind" experiment the 24 players were assigned to two groups of 12, and each group was administered either DHA-rich fish oil (omega-3) or olive oil (the placebo). After 4 weeks of intensive training all participants were tested; they were asked to "press different buttons and pedals with left and right hands and feet," and start an action then quickly stop on command, according to "visual and auditory stimuli" (Guzman, 301). The result after 4 weeks showed that the players that had taken DHA-rich fish oil reflected "significant improvement in the neuromotor functions" that are pivotal to successful competitive outcomes (Guzman, 301).

Concussions are a widely published problem in the National Football League, but according to a scholarly article in the journal Military Medicine, the use of omega-3 can be "useful and effective for recovery following traumatic brain injuries" (Lewis, et al., 2011). In fact the authors report that the beneficial effects of omega-3 fatty acids extend to when omega-3 is given to an athlete or a soldier before the injury (Lewis, 1120). Lewis goes on to assert that safe amounts of eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexacnoic acid (found in omega-3) -- up to 3000 mg per day) "…should be considered for the athlete and the soldier…particularly for those at risk or high exposure to brain impacts" (1120). Clearly, NFL players are at risk to brain impacts, so perhaps the team doctors for the 31 NFL teams should begin administering omega-3 to players.

Still more empirical evidence that omega-3 fatty acid is helpful for athletes is provided in another article from the peer-reviewed Journal of Sports Science and Medicine. Researchers used 3 healthy men and 8 healthy women from St. Louis Missouri; all 11 performed "eccentric arm curl exercises" on two occasions (Jouris, et al., 2011). The first exercises were done after taking 14d of "dietary omega-3 restriction" (the control substance); the second was after ingesting "7d of 3,000 mg/d of omega-3 supplementation" (the real stuff). Although in both trials there was soreness, swelling, and inflammation, with the real omega-3 the "magnitude of increase in soreness was 15% less" (Jouris, 432). The bottom line for Jouris and colleagues is that omega-3 supplementation "could provide benefits by minimizing post-exercise soreness" (432).

In conclusion, it is apparent from the four peer-reviewed articles that there are definitely benefits for athletes when omega-3 is taken in prescribed doses. In particular, given the high level of publicity surrounding the problem of concussions in the NFL, one would think that the League's doctors would get their heads together and begin a serious assessment of the potential benefits of omega-3.

Works Cited

Atashak, S., Sharafi, H., Azarbayjani, M.A., Stannard, S.R., Goli, M.A., and Haglighi, M.M.

(2013). Effect of Omega-3 Supplementation on the Blood Levels of Oxidative Stress,

Muscle Damage and Inflammation Markets after Acute Resistance Exercise in Young

Athletes. Kinesiology, 45(1), 22-29.

Guzman, J.F., Esteve, H., Pablos, C., Pablos, A., Blasco, C., and Villegas, J.A. (2011). DHA-

Rich fish oil improves complex reaction time in female elite soccer players. Journal of Sports Science and Medicine, 10(2), 301-305.

Jouris, K.B., McDaniel, J.L., and Weiss, E.P. (2011). The effect of omega-3 fatty acid supplementation on the inflammatory response to eccentric strength exercise. Journal of Sports Science and Medicine, 10(3), 432-438.

Lewis, M.D., and Bailes, J. (2011). Neuroprotection for the Warrior: Dietary Supplementation

With Omega-3 Fatty Acids. Military Medicine, 176(10), 1120-1127.

Lorimer, R., and Babraj, J. (2013).… [END OF PREVIEW]

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