When it comes to fat, there’s one type you don’t want to cut back on: omega-3 fatty acids. Two crucial ones, the omega-3s we hear most about are the long-chain fatty acids EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid). are primarily found in certain fish (salmon, herring, mackerel, sturgeon, tuna etc.) ALA (alpha-linolenic acid), another omega-3 fatty acid, is found in plant sources such as nuts and seeds (avocado, walnuts, olive oils). Not only does your body need these fatty acids to function, but also, they deliver some big health and athletic performance benefits.

Here are some of the Health benefits of omega 3s:

(1). Blood fat (triglycerides). Fish oil supplements can lower elevated triglyceride levels. Having high levels of this blood fat puts you at risk for heart disease, strokes and certain cancers

. (2). Rheumatoid arthritis. Fish oil supplements (EPA+DHA) can curb stiffness and joint pain. Omega-3 supplements also seem to boost the effectiveness of anti-inflammatory drugs.

(3). Depression. Some researchers have found that cultures that eat foods with high levels of omega-3s have lower levels of depression. Fish oil also seems to boost the effects of antidepressants and may help the depressive symptoms of bipolar disorder.

(4). Baby / child development. DHA appears to be important for visual and neurological development in infants. They Can reduce the symptoms of ADHD in some children and improve their mental skills, like thinking, remembering, and learning.

Here are some of the Performance benefits of omega 3s:

(1). Fish oil increases protein synthesis. It has been hypothesized that fish oils may improve the anabolic effect of exercise. In fact, a review of the scientific literature has concluded that omega-3 fatty acids combined with an anabolic stimulus (e.g., physical activity, protein, insulin) can improve protein metabolism. Another scientific review made similar conclusions saying that compelling evidence exists for the combination of omega-3 fatty acids with an anabolic stimulus to improve lean body mass function and quality, while decreasing exercise induced inflammation of the muscular and skeletal systems.

(2). Fish oil increases muscle strength and physical performance. While strength training alone increased muscle strength in all muscles assessed, this effect was greater in both groups supplemented with fish oil. Additionally, muscle activation and functional capacity were also significantly improved in the fish oil groups, compared to the strength training only. These results suggest that omega-3 fatty acids may exert an important influence on muscle function, helping to improve muscular strength, physical performance, and functional capacity.

(3). Fish oil helps to combat negative effects of intensive training on the immune system Regular exercise helps to boost the immune system, however, athletes can be exposed to exercise-induced stress when they consume inadequate diets, have irregular and/or inadequate sleeping patterns or when they train too intensely; this exercise-induced stress can lead to the generation of free radicals. (especially in natural, drug-free athletes). Omega-3 fatty acids may offer a solution to help modify and increase blood antioxidant status after intense exercise and therefore protect against exercise-induced free radical damage. Supplementation with the omega-3 fatty acids also tended to increase catalase antioxidant enzyme activity in response to exercise and this activity was significantly higher after one hour of recovery.  Additionally, a six-week double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled supplementation trial revealed that omega-3 fish oil supplementation reduced selected markers of oxidative stress after a single bout of eccentric knee contractions.

(4). Fish oil improves cardiovascular and respiratory functioning. Omega-3 fatty acids have beneficial effects on exercise parameters in people with heart disease, including heart rate at rest, heart rate recovery, heart rate variability, exercise capacity, exercise time, and blood vessel dilation. Since omega-3 fatty acids seem to positively impact the cardiovascular and respiratory system in people with heart disease, interest has been expressed regarding fish oil’s potential to benefit exercise parameters in healthy individuals and athletes.

Exercise helps to improve cardiovascular functioning by improving the heart’s ability to pump blood and consequently deliver oxygen to working muscles. Exercise also strengthens and tones the lungs, which enables the cardio pulmonary system to increase the maximum amount of oxygen that the lungs can handle. Preliminary research reveals that fish oil may improve lung function during exercise EPA+DHA dietary fat also positively impacts cardiovascular performance and helps to increase the aerobic work threshold in individuals who take omega-3s in.

In conclusion, Omega 3 supplements are a must for anyone interested in improving their cognitive, neurological, muscular and skeletal system health. The North American population consumes inadequate amounts of omega-3 fatty acids but this can easily be remedied with fish oil supplementation. While omega-3 fatty acids boost overall health, reduce inflammation, and offer prevention and treatment strategies for various individual health conditions, they also offer performance-enhancing benefits that can help athletes of all levels increase their game. Come talk to a fitness advisor or personal trainer at your local fitness center or health club on how omega 3 fish oil supplementations can improve your health, performance and quality of life today!