Benefits and purpose of omega-3 fatty acids in the world of sport
There is growing interest in finding nutrients and supplements that can improve performance and physical recovery in athletes. Athletes often use dietary supplements to increase their metabolic capacity, delay the onset of fatigue, improve muscular hypertrophy and shorten recovery times. Furthermore, their immune system is suppressed, due to intense training and frequent competitions, making them more prone to infections of the upper airways. Training causes bodily physiological stress and oxidative stress on biological systems, requiring a coordinated response from the cardiovascular, pulmonary and nervous systems to increase blood flow and the supply of oxygen to skeletal muscle in use, thereby obtaining a balance between reactive oxygen species (ROS) and antioxidant defences and thus reduce levels of inflammation.
Ergogenic aid can help prepare a person for exercise, improve the efficiency of, and recovery from, exercise and help prevent injury during intense training. In this respect omega-3 has been recently considered as an ergogenic supplement, as there is evidence for its positive effects on performance in training, improving recovery time, reducing the risk of disease and better performance in high-level competition. Furthermore, it has been shown to have an effect on mood and emotional state. The experience of adding 3.5 g/day of DHA-rich fish oil to diet for 4 weeks among 24 elite football players produced perceptual-motor benefits (i.e. improvements to complex reaction time and efficiency). These results support the idea that DHA can improve the performance of athletes where perceptual-motor activity and decision-making are the keys to success.
Ergogenic dietary supplements could be recommended to this section of the population to improve training and sporting performance.