EPA and DHA could counteract exercise-induced muscle and nerve damage
Dietary supplementation is important for improving and maintaining athletic performance. Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) are known to improve fatigue and stamina, and also maintain immune function; furthermore, they seem to be effective in delayed-onset muscle soreness and also exercise-related oxidative stress and inflammation. Positive effects have been observed for EPA and DHA on muscle and nerve damage induced by eccentric contractions (especially neuromuscular adaptation) and on muscle mass in conditions that cause wear.
Thus EPA and DHA have various effects that are beneficial in exercise-induced damage. However, there are currently no unified criteria with regard to the optimum dose and periods of supplementation, or which also take into account variables such as age, sex, frequency of exercise, illness and so on.
With regard to the supplementation period, it is known that it takes one or two months for EPA and DHA ingestion to be reflected in their incorporation into the myocardial membrane, while three or four months are needed for supplementation to translate into red blood cell deformability in patients with angina and claudication. With regard to dose, it has been stated that most most people who do sport (particularly those who do it in their free time) should include 1-2 g/day of EPA and DHA; it is also suggested that a consumption ratio of 2 EPA:1 DHA could counteract exercise-induced inflammation and prove beneficial to athletes’ overall health. Furthermore, EPA and DHA could play different roles and simultaneous ingestion could have a synergic effect.
Research is required to specify the optimum periods and dosage for supplementation with EPA, DHA, or both, to counteract exercise-induced muscle and nerve damage.