Omega -3 Fatty Acids (Fish oil) and Athletics

Current Sports Medicine Reports
July 2007, 6:230-236
The Center for Genetics, Nutrition and Health, Washington, D.C., USA

Artemis P. Simopoulos, M.D.
(She is Geneticist. And yes, I know the name doesn’t seem like a female name)

Key points

1. The human diet has had major changes in the past 150 years, yet the genetic profile has changed very little, if any, in the past 10,000 to 15,000 years.

2.  Human beings evolved consuming a diet that contained about equal amounts of n-6 and n-3 fatty acids.

3.  Today in Western diets, the ratio of n-6 to n-3 fatty acids ranges from approx 10:1 to 20:1 instead of the traditional range of 1:1 to 2:1.

4.  Excessive free radical formation and trauma during high-intensity exercise leads to an inflammatory state that is made worse by the increased amount of n-6 fatty acids in Western diets, although this can be counteracted by the n-3 fish oils eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)

5.  Most athletes should include 1 to 2 grams a day of EPA/DHA fish oil.

6.  The ratio of EPA:DHA should be 2:1

7.  “Diet and exercise are essential components for health”

8.  “N-3 fatty acids are essential for normal growth and development and play an important role in the prevention and management of coronary heart disease (CHD), and are beneficial in the management of hypertension, diabetes, arthritis and other autoimmune disorders, and cancer.”

9.  Ingestion of EPA and DHA from fish or fish oil leads to:
A) Decreased production of Prostaglandin E2
B) Decreased concentrations of thromboxane A2, a potent platelet aggregator and vasoconstrictor
C) Decreased formation of leukotriene B4, an inducer of inflammation.

10.  The increased amounts of n-6 fatty acids in the Western diet increase the eicosanoid metabolic products from arachidonic acid, specifically prostaglandins, thromboxanes, leukotrienes, hydorxy fatty acids, and lipoxins. Eicosapentaenoic fish oil is the primary inhibitor of this arachidonic cascade.

11.  The Eicosanoids from arachidonic acid contribute to the formation of thrombi, atheromas, and the development of allergic and inflammatory disorders.

12.  A diet rich in n-6 fatty acids increases in blood viscosity, vasospasm, and vasoconstriction.

13.. “Fatty acids rapidly and directly alter the transcription of specific genes.”

14.  The effects of n-3 fatty acids and physical activity are similar and are “opposite of those of the effects of the aging process.”

15.  “N-3 fatty acids are essential for overall health of the athlete.”

16.  Both n-3 fatty acids and exercise increase the production of endogenous antioxidant enzymes such as catalase, glutathione peroxides dismutase.

17.  Both n-3 fatty acids and exercise increase oxygen delivery to the heart muscle “so that the heart does not have to work as hard to get the oxygen it needs for work.”

18.  During exercise there is an increase in the generation of free radicals.

19.  Fish oil concentrates rich in EPA and DHA counteract the effects of the inflammatory state.

20.  “The background diet should be balanced in n-6 and n-3 fatty acids by lowering n-6-rich oils. (lowering intake of n-6 oils such as corn oil, sunflower, safflower, cottonseed, and soybean oils”

21.  “Changes and improvements in the background diet and an additional 1-2 grams a day of EPA/DHA should prevent the inflammation in muscles and joints. For the elite athlete, the above prophylactic measures are essential.”

22.  “Dietary fish oil supplementation has a markedly protective effect in suppressing exercised-induced bronchoconstriction (EIB) in elite athletes, and this is most likely attributed to the EPA/DHA anti-inflammatory properties.”

23. “Essential fatty acids, both n-6 and n-3, have been part of our diet since the beginning of human life.  Before the agricultural revolution 10,000 years ago, humans consumed about equal amounts of both.  Over the past 150 years this balance has been upset.”

24. “Eicosanoids derived from n-6 fatty acids have opposing metabolic properties to those derived from n-3 fatty acids.  A balanced intake of both n-6 and n-3 fatty acids is essential for health.”

25. Both n-3 fatty acids and exercise increase basal metabolic rate, insulin sensitivity, nitric oxide production, erythrocyte deformability, heart rate variability, and bone density, and decrease the risk of metabolic syndrome, bone fractures, platelet aggregation, and depression.

26. “In the athletic setting, the n-3 fatty acids are essential for overall health of the athlete.”

Side Note: Buy from reputable companies! It doesn’t pay to find the cheapest fish oil products. You wouldn’t shop for cheapest heart surgeon for a loved one would you? Read this link on fish oil lawsuit in 2010. https://adjust2it.wordpress.com/category/fish-oil-lawsuit-2010/

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Omega-3 books-(These are also good books on overall health!)

1. Omega-3 Connection by Andrew Stoll, Simon & Schuster, 2001
2. Medicinal Fatty Acids in Inflammation, edited by Joel Kremer (Professor of Medicine and Head of Rheumatology at Albany Medical College, New York), (Birkhauswer Verlag), 1998 (Technical Biochemical reference book $131.00)
3. Fats that Heal, Fats that Kill, by Udo Erasmus, Alive books, 1993
4. The Omega Zone, by Barry Sears, Regan Books, 2002
5. Fish oil, The Natural Anti-inflammatory, Joseph Maroon, M.D., Basic Health, 2006
6. Eat, Drink, and Be Healthy by Walter Willett and The Harvard School of Public Health, Simon & Schuster, 2001
7.  Healthy Fats For Life, by Lorna Vanderhaeghe and Karlene Karst, Wiley, 2004
8.  The Ultimate Omega-3 Diet, Evelyn Tribole, McGraw Hill, 2007
9.  The Queen of Fats, Why omega-3s Were Removed From the Western Diet and What We Can Do to Replace Them, Susan Allport, University of Calif. Press, 2006
10. Your Miracle Brain by Jean Carper, Harper Collins, 2000
11. The Better Brain Book, by David Perlmutter, M.D., Riverhead Books, 2004
12. Brain Lipids and Disorders in Biological Psychiatry, ER Skinnner (Ed.), Elsevier Science, 2002
13. Phospholipid Spectrum Disorders In Psychiatry and Neurology, edited by Malcolm Peet, Iain Glenn, David Horrobin, Marlus Press, 2003
14. The Anti-Inflammation Zone, by Barry Sears, Ph.D, Reagan books, 2004
15. Inflammation Nation, by Floyd Chilton, Fireside Books, 2005
16. The Antioxidant Miracle by Lester Packer, Wiley, 1999
17. The Schwartzbein Principle, by Diana Schwartzbein, M.D., 1999
18. The LCP Solution, by B. Jacqueline Stordy, Ballantine Books, 2000
19. The Paleo Diet, by Loren Cordain, Wiley 2002

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