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A new study shows how omega-3 fatty acids increase nitric oxide production – a molecule that supports and enhances athletic performance. Endurance athletes who consumed supplemental omega-3s had higher blood levels of arginine, an amino acid involved in nitric oxide production.
The study involved 26 men who underwent endurance training for 12 weeks. Half of the men took an omega-3 supplement (approximately 3 grams daily) for the duration of the training, while the other half did not. Researchers measured their Omega-3 Indices and blood amino acid levels before and after the intervention.
They found that the men who took the supplemental omega-3s had higher Omega-3 Indices than those who did not. These higher indices corresponded with higher blood arginine levels – indirect indicators of increased nitric oxide synthesis and bioavailability.
Nitric oxide is a molecule produced in the body’s blood vessels and from precursors acquired in the diet via nitrate-containing foods, such as beets and green leafy vegetables. It plays crucial roles in regulating vasodilation, heart rate, and mitochondrial respiration.
Omega-3s are essential fatty acids that play important roles in cardiovascular health. An abundance of research shows that supplemental omega-3s enhance muscle function and recovery. Learn more about omega-3s in our comprehensive overview article and this episode featuring omega-3 expert Dr. Bill Harris.
These findings suggest that omega-3 supplementation support nitric oxide production – potentially boosting athletic performance. This was a small study, however, and larger studies are needed to confirm these findings.
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