According to a new study from Japan a daily supplementation with EPA-rich fish oil may boost exercise economy, a predictor of endurance exercise performance.
In the randomized controlled trial, blood concentrations of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) as well as oxygen uptake (VO2) during steady-state submaximal exercise were measured in 20 healthy college-age males, who received a daily fish oil supplement with 3.6 grams EPA or placebo (triglycerides) for eight weeks (1). The study results showed that blood (erythrocyte) EPA and DHA levels increased significantly by 148% and 13%, respectively, after fish oil supplementation, while no such increases were observed in the control group. Data from cycle ergometer tests indicated that the more EPA was in the red blood cells the lower was the oxygen uptake during the exercise.
The researchers concluded that these findings suggest that an EPA-rich fish oil supplementation improves exercise economy and reduces perceived exertion. Because there is a strong relationship between exercise economy and endurance capacity, fish oil supplementation may also enhance endurance capacity by improving exercise economy. The mechanisms behind these effects are not clear so far.