A recent clinical trial, published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, concluded that exercise-related benefits could be achieved in as little as four weeks – performance results show that omega-3s may support increased joint flexibility and reduced muscle fiber damage following eccentric contractions (the point in an exercise which occurs when the total length of muscle increases as tension is produced).
The double-blind, placebo-controlled, parallel study design recruited 22 untrained men who were either assigned to a EPA and DHA group or a placebo group. The intervention group received 600 mg EPA and 260 mg DHA per day for four weeks prior to exercise, which was when participants were instructed to perform 60 eccentric contractions (ECCs) at 100% maximal voluntary contraction using a dumbbell, which was used due to the fact that it causes significant delayed-onset muscle soreness.
Following the exercise period, the authors of the study assessed the results of several changes they were monitoring, including muscle composition, soreness, range of motion, serum creatine kinase, and interleukin-6.
The authors of the study noted that the EHPA and DHA group had a significantly higher range of motion compared to the placebo group, and that intervention with fish oil was linked to a significantly lower amount of serum creatine kinase following exercise. Creatine kinase is typically measured during exercise studies as, in higher concentrations, it is suggestive of damage to muscle fiber. For these reasons, the authors of the study concluded that short-term supplementation with fish oil could have near-term benefits on joint flexibility and the protection of muscles exposed to exercise-induced stress.
“The dose, rather than the duration of the administration, appears to be a more important factor determining the preventive effect on joint flexibility,” the authors of the study concluded. On the importance of having a roughly 2:1 ratio of EPA to DHA in regard to this benefit, the authors said that it may be an important factor to maintain joint flexibility after muscle damage, and that the effectiveness of fish oil supplementation may differ depending on overall dose, mode of exercise, and specific muscles involved, rather than the duration of consumption.
Mike Montemarano has been the Associate Editor of Nutraceuticals World since February 2020. He can be reached at email@example.com.