The typical Western diet contains a ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids ranging from approximately 10:1 to 20:1 instead of the recommended range of 1:1 to 2:1. Studies indicate that a high intake of omega-6 fatty acids shifts the physiologic state to one that is characterized by increases in blood viscosity, vasospasm, and vasoconstriction, and decreases in bleeding time. Data continues to accumulate that supports EPA and DHA in cardiovascular health as well as many other areas, including neurological health, vision health, and joint health. The omega-3 fatty acid EPA is the direct precursor for the prostaglandins, which are involved in helping to maintain the body’s normal regulatory processes. Athletes are prone to wear and tear of the body and joints after long strenuous exercise, which can affect recovery time and performance. Therefore, omega-3 fatty acids can assist in the normal recovery of inflammation and healthy joints after exercise. Omega-3s can also support proper breathing and lung capacity. Studies have shown that 3 weeks of fish oil supplementation, rich in EPA and DHA, promotes normal airway passages and bronchodilation in athletes with exercise-induced airway narrowing. In a study published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, researchers found that participants taking fish oil for six weeks supported healthy body composition by increasing lean muscle mass and reducing fat mass.
Omega-3, specifically EPA, may provide better oxygen delivery during exercise and help to remove lactic acid from the body. DHA plays a major role in the structural integrity of neuronal membranes. DHA is essential for neurological and visual development. As the most abundant fatty acid in the brain, adequate amounts of DHA are needed throughout infancy and in to adulthood for ongoing optimal brain function and memory. A study concluded that supplementing with omega-3 plus policosanol for 21 days improved reaction time in athletes by supporting the central nervous system