Fish Oil – A Must for Those Who WorkOwt!
Unless you happen to be a ‘salmon junkie’ or live near the coastline, chances are you’re failing to get your daily dose of fresh fish to provide for the American Heart Association’s recommended 1,250mg daily intake of essential fatty acids (EFAs).
When people speak of ‘omega-3s’, they generally speak of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) – the two main forms of omega-3 fatty acids. DHA is often times linked to protecting vision as well as the developing neurological system, whereas EPA is recognized for its ability to enhance muscle protein synthesis along with its positive effects on alleviating depression. Until a newly released article published within the Archives of Internal Medicine, both have been attributed with positive coronary effects.
Who should be taking it?
Irrespective of the ongoing debate whether or not fish oil assists in the secondary protection against coronary disease, unless you’re pregnant, a newborn, or taking certain prescribed medications to remedy a present heart condition (namely, blood-thinners along the lines of Coumadin), it is relatively safe to consume fish oil. More importantly, should you be serious about improving or preserving your health, the EFAs within fish oil remain truly essential.
Bodybuilders and competitive athletes have learned to respect this ‘golden’ oil within the recent decade, and appreciate its synergistic effects when used in combination with other supplements along the lines of HMB (beta-hydroxy beta-methyl butyrate), BCAAs (branched-chain amino acids), leucine, or whey, for reducing muscle protein breakdown. Evidence suggests when taken together with your post-workout meal/shake fish oil may boost the body’s natural anabolic response – reducing muscle breakdown.
Taking Fish Oil Leads to Enhanced Athletic Performance
Studies have long indicated fish oil’s positive effect on coronary arteries and its ability to increase stroke volume and cardiac output. This, in effect results in better oxygen delivery to your muscles during vigorous exercise.
Fish oil has also been proven to support insulin function by lowering blood glucose – improving the amount glucose and fatty acid absorbed by muscular tissue. Thus, taking fish oil contributes to better usage of the fuel you place within your body. And better utilization of this fuel not only results in greater strength and endurance, but also leads to better body composition overall.
Lube-Up Those Joints
Among the more beneficial roles fish oil has on an athlete’s body is in reducing inflammation. The consistent training most athletes place on their bodies can eventually bring about joint inflammation – which unfortunately contributes to reduced mobility.
Without getting too scientific, the essential fatty acids EPA and DHA enhance the body’s natural anti-inflammatory markers (i.e. IL-10, and TGF-ß) while reducing the markers critical to inflammation (i.e. IL-1a, TNF-a, and COX-2). The reduced inflammation allows for greater joint mobility. This theory may also be applied to the effective use of fish oil for the treatment of osteoarthritis.
What Are the Best Sources of EPA and DHA?
The essential fatty acids, EPA and DHA are generally present in cold-water fatty fish. Well known fish include salmon, tuna, tilapia, sardines, mackerel, and shellfish. While the fish listed contain some mercury, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has ruled them safe to consume several times per week without running the danger of mercury poisoning.
Alternatively, it’s recommended you avoid consuming shark, swordfish, tilefish, albacore tuna, or King Mackerel regularly since they contain elevated amounts of mercury. As a rule of thumb, the higher the fish is on the food chain, the greater amount of mercury (and other heavy metals) it possesses.
Fish Oil Supplements
Fish oil supplements produced from reputable manufactures testing for mercury along with other potential harmful substances typically do not pose similar likelihood of contamination. Taking this into consideration, it is always imperative you study the labels of all supplements carefully prior to purchasing. Verify purity and whether or not a company supplies lab analysis of the ingredients contained within. Additionally it is worth noting some fish oils contain different ratios of EPA to DHA (usually favoring greater amounts of EPA). A reputable company should list the quantities of both on their label.
Things to consider
Although fish oil is an excellent supplement, here’s a list of precautions to be aware of:
- Fish oil capsules can cause side effects. Minor side effects include loose stools, upset stomach, and “fishy burps”. Some companies use enteric coating on their capsules to minimize these effects.
- Fish oil may also prolong bleeding time. If you are taking blood-thinning medication (i.e. Coumadin), talk to your doctor before taking fish oil.
- Pregnant women should consult with their physician before taking any fish oil supplement.
- Although allergy to fish oil is uncommon, if you are allergic to fish, talk to an allergy specialist before consuming fish oil.
Whether or not you consider yourself an athlete, taking a fish oil supplemental is an excellent way of obtaining your EFAs. Vitamins that are considered essential must be obtained via outside food sources or through supplementation, and are necessary for maintaining proper cell function.
Fish oil is nature’s ‘golden’ oil, and lucky for us there is plenty of it to go around. Unless you plan to increase your low-mercury, cold-water fatty fish intake today, invest in a good fish oil supplement and reap all of its wonderful health benefits. Your body will thank you.