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Omega-3s may boost performance for cyclists: Study

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Omega-3s may boost performance for cyclists: Study

Related tags: Omega-3 fatty acid, Red blood cell

Supplements containing omega-3s may increase concentrations of NO and boost blood flow, thereby enhancing exercise performance in cyclists, says a new study from Poland.

Scientists from the Academy of Physical Education in Katowice and the Medical University of Silesia report that omega-3 supplementation boosted baseline NO concentrations by an average of 8 micromoles per liter more than placebo, and boosted flow mediated dilation (FMD – a measure of blood flow and vascular health) by 5.25%, compared with placebo.

These increases in FMD were associated with significant increases in VO2max (maximal oxygen uptake), compared with placebo, according to findings published in the European Journal of Sport Science​.

The study adds to a small but growing body of science supporting the sports nutrition potential of omega-3s. Last year, Japanese scientists from Nippon Suisan Kaisha, Ltd, The University of Tokyo, the University of Toyama, and Josai International University reported that daily supplements of an EPA-rich fish oil may boost exercise economy, a predictor of endurance exercise performance.

In that instance, a daily fish oil dose of 3.6 grams for eight weeks was associated with increases in EPA and DHA levels in red blood cells (erythrocytes) and decreases in oxygen uptake (VO2) during steady-state submaximal exercise (Bioscience, Biotechnology, and Biochemistry​)​.

Study details

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The new study involved 13 elite cyclists and randomly assigned them to receive daily omega-3 supplements (1.3 grams per day) or placebo for three weeks.

Results showed significant differences between baseline NO levels pre- and post-supplementation, with levels increasing from an average of 13.9 to 23.5 micromoles per liter, whereas NO levels post-placebo intervention only increased to 15.3 micromoles per liter.

“These findings suggest that an increase in NO release in response to n-3 PUFA supplementation may play a central role in cardiovascular adaptive mechanisms and enhanced exercise performance in cyclists,”​ concluded the researchers.

Source: European Journal of Sport Science
Volume 15, Number 4, Pages 305-314, doi: 10.1080/17461391.2014.949310
“Omega-3 fatty acids supplementation improves endothelial function and maximal oxygen uptake in endurance-trained athletes”
Authors: A. Zebrowska, K. Mizia-Stec, M. Mizia, Z. Gasior, S. Poprzecki

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