Fish Oil and Exercise: Even Low Dose Helps!

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fish oil and exercise

There’s quite a bit published about fish oil and the heart. In fact, fish oil as a supplement was first discovered when lower rates of heart disease were noticed in the otherwise rotund Eskimos of Greenland. Now a new study shows that fish oil and exercise may also be related-the supplement helps the heart perform better during exercise.

Fish oil contains good omega 3 fatty acids, which help to balance the bad omega 6 fatty acids in our diets. It’s also really good for your heart. For example, in one recent review of the literature, there was strong evidence that fish oil reduced the risk of a fatal heart attack and heart rhythm issues.

When most people buy fish oil they get the biggest and cheapest tub of pills they can find at the local grocery store or discount chain, however taking one or two of these low dose fish oil pills is often too little to see all the benefits of the supplement. The dosing range needed often requires concentrated fish oil that has been converted back to it’s natural triglyceride form after processing. What so interesting about this recent study on fish oil and exercise is that the benefits were seen with low dose supplementation.

The new research looked at men who were exercising and measured their heart rate metrics before, during, and after activity. While the men on fish oil versus placebo didn’t have any difference in peak heart rate with exercise, they did have an improvement in both mean heart rate during exercise and recovery of a normal heart rate after exercise. These later two measurements likely fit with the supplement’s ability to reduce heart rate rhythm disturbances. They also fit with another recent study showing that fish oil helped oxygen transfer during exercise. 

The upshot? While buying that big tub of cheap fish oil at Costco may not provide fish oil benefits like helping your arthritis, it does seem to have other benefits like helping the heart while you exercise. Bottom line? If you want to exercise better, consider fish oil supplements!

Chris Centeno, MD

Regenexx Founder

Chris Centeno, MD is a specialist in regenerative medicine and the new field of Interventional Orthopedics. Centeno pioneered orthopedic stem cell procedures in 2005 and is responsible for a large amount of the published research on stem cell use for orthopedic applications.
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