Benefits of Fish Oil for Senior Athletes
Ah, fish oil. You’ve heard so many health claims about it you would think a monthly supply costs only $19.99 if you order Right Now, and, as a free bonus, they’ll throw in a mini-waffle press. Sensational claims aside, fish oil—specifically the omega-3 fatty acids docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA)—delivers. The long-term health and fat loss benefits have been well-supported by the scientific evidence.
Long-Term Health Benefits
Supplementation of the diet with fish oil containing EPA and DHA offers several long-term health benefits:
- Heart health – supplementation has been shown to reduce the risk of heart attack
- Stroke prevention—anti-clotting properties reduce the chance of stroke
- Anti-inflammation—supplementation reduces the effect of several chemicals that break down tissues in the body when stress levels are chronically elevated
- Reduction in symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis—consuming fish oil reduces the pain caused by rheumatoid arthritis
- Bone health—the omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil strengthen bones through facilitating the integration of calcium
These incredible benefits result from the long-term daily intake of omega-3s. It may take a month or even up to a year of daily fish oil supplementation for some of the above wellbeing enhancements to become apparent.
Fish Oil Helps You Lose Fat and Gain Muscle
In addition to that stunning array of long-term health benefits, fish oil supplementation helps improve body composition in these ways:
- Insulin sensitivity—when combined with exercise and a healthy diet, fish oil helps the fat cells block new fat formation
- Fat oxidation—the counterpart to the above is that EPA/DHA facilitates the release of stored fat from the fat cell into the blood stream where it will then be used for fuel
- Nutrient partitioning—this is the process through which incoming nutrients from the food you eat are directed toward either fat cells or muscle cells. Fish oil increases the percentage of ingested nutrients which are taken up by the muscle—which is what we want—while simultaneously decreasing the percentage of ingested nutrients which are stored as fat.
So, How Much Should I Take?
This question is difficult to answer since it depends entirely on you and your specific circumstances. Recommendations from trusted sources range from as little as one fish oil capsule a day to as many as twenty. In addition to the differing opinions on the safe upper end of dosing, there are large variations in the actual relative amounts of the active ingredients (EPA/DHA) among the various brands that market fish oil. As a general guideline, men seeking to reduce their risk of the aforementioned ailments should ingest about 4 grams total of EPA and DHA—or approximately 10 capsules of high-quality fish oil. Of course, you should always consult with your physician before taking any kind of nutritional supplement.
Final Note on Quality and Personal Choice
As was mentioned above, the myriad available brands differ greatly in the amount of active ingredient they contain. Thus it is very important to carefully read the label looking for the concentration of EPA/DHA while looking out for brands with excess vitamin E or D. In most stores the more expensive the fish oil, the higher the omega-3 fatty acid concentration, but you must read the label.
In addition to different brands, fish oil is usually available in liquid form in a variety of flavors. Choose whichever form is easiest for you to swallow and that which leaves little or no aftertaste. Be thorough in your evaluation because you should be taking fish oil every day for the rest of your life.