Study: High dose fish oil supplement speeds exercise recovery

By Nikki Hancocks contact

- Last updated on GMT

Getty | banusevim
Getty | banusevim

Related tags: Fish oil, Sports nutrition, Muscle

Daily supplementation with a high dose (6g/day) of fish oil can improve muscle recovery following a damaging bout of exercise, research has concluded.

Current data suggests​ that fish oil (FO) supplementation likely enhances recovery and preserves strength following stressful exercise, with the positive influence mostly attributed to the anti-inflammatory and immunomodulatory properties​ conferred by EPA and DHA. 

However, conflicting results are present regarding FO’s ability to enhance recovery, which may be partially attributed to the varying dosages of FO implemented in previous studies, as well as the length of supplementation.

In the current study, researchers from universities across the US, carried out a randomised, placebo-controlled, double-blind experimental design to examine the effect of different dosages of FO on the recovery of measures of muscular performance, perceived soreness, and markers of muscle damage, following a rigorous bout of exercise.

Their results revealed that supplementation with 6 g/day (2400 mg/day EPA and 1800 mg/day DHA) optimised the recovery of performance and muscle soreness. 

The report states: "Based on the results of our investigation, we suggest exercising individuals undergoing vigorous or unaccustomed exercise consume a higher dose of 6G per day (2400 mg EPA, 1800 mg DHA) in order to reduce perceived soreness and improve acute power production in the recovery period."

This research is novel in that it is the first to examine the impact of different FO dosages with the same EPA/DHA ratio on recovery from skeletal muscle-damaging exercise.


Thirty-two college-aged resistance-trained males in their early twenties were supplemented with 2, 4, 6 g/day FO or placebo (PL) for approximately 7.5 weeks. 

Upon arrival to the laboratory, a phlebotomist collected the first (pre-exercise) of five blood samples, followed by pre-exercise assessment (PRE) of perceived soreness, vertical jumps, T-test agility, 40-yard sprint, and Maximal Voluntary Isometric Contraction.

Participants then completed a 10 minute self-selected dynamic warm up followed by the muscle-damaging squat exercise protocol. Following completion of the exercise, participants had their blood drawn, rated their current perceived muscle soreness, and completed all measures of muscle performance testing, immediately-, 1-, 2-, 4-, 24-, 48-, and 72- hours post-squat exercise.

The researchers note that they did not measure the increase in omega-3 fatty acid levels in the blood or skeletal muscle and the small sample size did not allow them to determine differences between sexes for dependent variables. This may have attributed to the lack of significant differences noted between groups, especially for blood enzymes. 

The report concludes: "The ideal dose of FO should continue to be researched in exercising men and women, with appropriate caution towards high-dose FO and the potential inhibition of platelet function​. Further, future investigations should consider incorporating a comprehensive assessment of inflammatory markers, as well as conducting acute and long-term FO supplementation periods at different dosages, as well as different EPA and DHA ratios."

Source: Nutrients

VanDusseldorp. D. A., et al

"Impact of Varying Dosages of Fish Oil on Recovery and Soreness Following Eccentric Exercise"

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