Omega-3 fatty acids are also important in sport and physical exercise. In a first study of German athletes, one athlete from 96 was in the target range of 8-11% for a healthy omega-3 index.
95 athletes had lower and suboptimal levels of EPA and DHA in their red blood cells.(Kemper et al. unpublished.)
Therefore,most of the German athletes in the study, had low levels of omega-3 fatty acids and faced an unnecessarily high risk for diseases such as congestive heart failure,depression,cognitive decline, osteoporosis,immune suppression and inflammation.
One explanation for why trained professional athletes have a low omega-3 index could be their increased fatty acid metabolism. Most of the fatty acids they eat are burned as energy, including the omega-3 fatty acids.
In particular, athletes should consume their omega-3 fatty acids supplements in the evening to give their bodies enough time to absorb and incorporate them into body tissues overnight rather than to burn them or store as energy.
Ω Krill oil is one of the best omega-3 fatty acid options for athletes, because the omega-3 phospholipids in krill oil are less burned as energy and to a higher extent incorporated into body tissues than conventional fish oil products that contain omega-3 fatty acids in triglyceride form.
Ω Krill oil protects the athletic heart:
Regardless of the sport, everybody who gives a serious athletic performance puts a lot of stress on their body, especially the heart. A certain level of physical activity is good for the cardiovascular system, but too much can be dangerous for the heart and in the worst case can lead to sudden heart death.
Every year, young trained athletes including soccer players,cyclist and runners die of sudden heart death.
At big running events, such as a marathon, accidents involving heart attacks and sudden heart death occur. People engaging in regular strenuous physical exercise should take special care of their hearts and ensure their diet provides the protective effects of omega-3 fatty acids.
It has been shown that supplementation of athletes with EPA and DHA lowers heart rate at sub-maximal exercise, because stroke volume and cardiac output increase. This means that the oxygen is used more efficient by the heart and muscles during exercise. This is important for everyone who does sports for fitness and health. They can perform their fitness exercise while putting their heart and muscles under less stress.
Moreover, after exercise, heart rate slows more quickly, which should be advantageous in sports like biathlon.
Supplemenation with EPA and DHA improves lung function:
Many athletes have lung problems and problems breathing and even suffer from exercise-induced asthma requiring them to use medication to ease breathing.
Exercise-induced broncho-constriction (EIB) is a condition in which vigorous physical activity triggers acute airway obstruction in asthmatic and non asthmatic individuals with hyper responsive airways.
Studies have shown that inflammantory mediators and contraction of the smooth muscles in the airway are central components in the pathogenesis of EIB.
While daily medication provides only modest protection against symptoms, prolonged use of several medications can result in reduced effectiveness.
The management of EIB mainly involves pharmacotherapy, but also dietary modifications have shown a potential to decrease the severity of the symptoms. In particular it was shown that 3 weeks of omega-3 fatty acid supplementation reduces exercise induced airway narrowing and inflammation, and medication use in elite athletes and asthmatic persons with EIB.
Supplementation with EPA and DHA improves red blood cell deformability:
Marine omega-3 fatty acid supplementation increases the concentration of omega-3 fatty acids in the red blood membrane. A higher omega-3 fatty acid content in the red blood cells increases their deformability and reduces the aggregation of red blood cells. In athletes, this can be important because it gives them an advantage to be able to transport and exhange lots of oxygen to very small blood vessels into the muscles.
Also red blood cells get often mechanically damaged, especially in feet during running and a higher flexibility could keep red blood cells longer intact.
Supplementation with EPA and DHA improves blood flow:
It is know that EPA and DHA improve blood flow and reduce high blood pressure by acting in blood vessels.
This also happens during exercise and an increased blood flow could reduce both exercise induced muscle damage and decrease recovery time.
Further, in untrained persons, less pain occurred after particularly strenuous exercise after treatment with 1,8g/day EPA and DHA than in the control group.
EPA and DHA supplementation increases performance for untrained people:
In untrained elderly women, greater improvements in muscle strength and functional capacity were caused by inclusion of 2g. EPA and DHA per day for 60 days prior and during training in comparison to no supplementation. In untrained persons but not in trained athletes, the inflammatory reaction after strenuous exercise was attenuated by prior supplementation with 2g per day EPA and DHA for six weeks.
In these studies, various biochemical parameters of inflammatory reactions were measured, with inconsistent results. In an observatory study in patients with coronary artery disease, the level of the omega-3 index correlated with exercise capacity and time, and heart rate reduction after exercise.