Whether you perform aerobic exercise or resistance training, muscle fibers undergo stress and damage. This results in an increase in inflammation, which produces symptoms such as soreness, swelling and loss of strength. Fish oil’s omega-3 fatty acids can play a role in enhancing muscle recovery by reducing inflammation and promoting muscle protein synthesis. Consult your health-care provider before taking fish oil.
Fish oil is a rich source of docosahexaenoic acid, or DHA, and eicosapentaenoic acid, or EPA, both healthy omega-3 fatty acids. These omega-3 fatty acids can’t be synthesized in your body and must be obtained through diet or supplementation. Omega-3 fatty acids are vital for cell membrane support and are found in high amounts in the brain, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center.
Reducing inflammation after a workout can enhance muscle recovery and allow you to return to the gym sooner. Scientists at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School investigated the mechanisms behind the omega-3s' ability to reduce inflammation. They discovered that DHA is converted to the lipid resolvin D2 in the body, which signals the release of nitric oxide in blood vessels. Nitric oxide inhibits white blood cells from sticking to blood vessels, thereby preventing inflammation, according to the study, which was published in the September 2009 issue of “Nature.”
Muscle Protein Synthesis
Igniting muscle protein synthesis after a workout -- the process that leads to an increase in muscle cell size -- helps repair muscle cells and allows them to come back bigger and stronger than before. In research published in the September 2011 issue of “Clinical Science,” researchers from Washington University School of Medicine found that young and middle-aged men taking 4 g of omega-3s daily for eight weeks experienced greater increases in muscle protein synthesis compared with those who had a placebo.
Omega-3s found in fish oil may interfere with certain medications, including blood-thinning medications, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. If you are taking any medications, consult your health-care provider before taking fish oil.
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Omega-3 Fatty Acids
- "Nature": Resolvin D2 is a Potent Regulator of Leukocytes and Controls Microbial Sepsis
- "Clinical Science": Omega-3 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids Augment the Muscle Protein Anabolic Response to Hyperinsulinaemia-hyperaminoacidaemia in Healthy Young and Middle-Aged Men and Women
- Thinkstock/Comstock/Getty Images
This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.