Omega 3’s, unsaturated fatty acids have many more health benefits than most people know. Omega 3’s is present in many different types of natural foods and also come in supplement form. This type of “good fat’ can be very beneficial for everyone, but especially for runners and athletes.
What are Omega 3’s?
Omega 3’s is a type of unsaturated fatty acid, which is often referred to as ‘good fat’ due to several health benefits. There are three types of Omega 3’s; ALA- alpha-linolenic acid, EPA- eicosapentaenoic acid, and DHA- docosahexaenoic acid. All three types of Omega 3’s can be found in certain food.
ALA is an essential fatty acid, which the body cannot produce naturally, so you need to get it from food. Plant-based food such as walnuts, chia seeds, flax seeds, soybeans, hemp seed and some plant oil, provide us with Omega 3’s ALA.
DHA and EPA are non-essential fatty acid that the body can produce, but only in small amounts. The best option to get DHA and EPA is through natural food, such as fish, shellfish, seaweed, algae and supplements. For people following a vegan diet, it is important to take Omega 3’s supplements to get enough sources of the three types. The average recommendation for daily intake of Omega 3’s supplements is 500mg of EPA and DHA/day for general health.
Health Benefits of Omega 3’s
Omega 3’s is mostly known for anti-inflammatory benefits. Chronic inflammation can be associated with serious diseases. Making sure we provide our body with enough Omega 3’s, will help prevent and treat many health issues. When taking supplements, we have to make sure they include both DHA and EPA, also we have to find a good quality brand for these types of supplements to get the essential benefits.
- Can reduce the risk of heart disease and help build a healthy heart.
- Helps to reduce triglycerides and blood pressure.
- Can prevent and help treat cancer (breast cancer, skin cancer).
- Reduces the risk of depression and anxiety
Omega-3’s Benefits for Runners’ Performance
We all know how running puts a bit of stress on our heart, lungs, joints, and muscles. With the great anti-inflammatory benefits from Omega 3’s, this nutrient can help increase recovery and healing. On the other hand, if you have Omega 3’s deficiency, the side effects may hurt your running performance. Making sure you provide your body with enough Omega 3’s, will support your overall health, recovery and performance.
- Oxygen Uptake– To consume Omega 3’s through both natural foods and supplements, will help increase the levels of nitric oxide in the blood and higher the oxygen uptake. Runners will be better at transporting oxygen to muscles for use during training to help enhance the performance.
- Reduce Muscle Soreness– Another benefit of Omega3’s is the increase of the muscle sensitivity to protein supplementation, which helps your body absorb and process protein. Combining Omega 3’s and protein for post-run recovery will help reduce muscle soreness. Also, the benefits of anti-inflammation from Omega 3’s will help provide better muscle recovery.
- Lower Levels of Asthma– For runners who have to deal with exercise or run induced asthma, taking extra supplements of Omega 3’s has shown benefits of a reduction of pro-inflammatory markers for runners and athletes
Supplements or no Supplements for Runners?
For people who eat Omega-3’s rich foods daily, they might not need to add daily supplements. But for runners, our body needs higher levels of Omega-3’s. You need to eat this nutrient rich food daily. The recommendation for the fish is a minimum of two servings/week. For runners, to take a daily 500mg of EPA and DHA Omega-3’s quality supplements will help increase the running performance and body recovery.
Here’s a list of the top 15 Omega-3 foods (percentages based on 4,000 mg per day of total Omega-3s).
- Atlantic Mackerel: 6,982 mg in 1 cup cooked (174% DV)
- Salmon Fish Oil: 4,767 mg in 1 tbsp. (119% DV)
- Cod Liver Oil: 2.664 mg in 1 tbsp. (66% DV)
- Walnuts: 2,664 mg in 1/4 cup (66% DV)
- Chia Seeds: 2,457 mg in 1 tbsp. (61% DV)
- Herring: 1,885 mg in 85g (47% DV)
- Alaskan Salmon (wild-caught): 1,716 mg in 85g (42% DV)
- Flaxseeds (ground): 1,597 mg in 1 tbsp. (39% DV)
- Albacore Tuna: 1,414 mg in 85g (35% DV)
- White Fish: 1,363 mg in 85g (34% DV)
- Sardines: 1,363 mg in 1 can/106g (34% DV)
- Hemp Seeds: 1,000 mg in 1 tbsp. (25% DV)
- Anchovies: 951 mg in 1 can/56g (23% DV)
- Natto: 428 mg in 1/4 cup (10% DV)
- Egg Yolks: 240 mg in 1/2 cup (6% DV)
Eat Right, Train Well, Feel Great!