A strong, healthy heart is important to athletes and science has shown that DHA – an omega-3 fatty acid – is a key nutrient in supporting heart function. To meet the demands that exercise places on the body, working muscles use oxygen pumped from the heart for energy. Increases in cardiac output and improved oxygen utilization are indications that the heart is working more efficiently – a key factor in the overall performance of an athlete.
What cardiovascular benefits can DHA omega-3 provide?
DHA omega-3 supports a number of key cardiovascular health benefits, including:
- Helps improve cardiac efficiency and optimizes cardiac performance
- Helps increase blood flow and oxygen delivery to muscles
- Lowers resting heart rate
Cardiac output is the product of heart rate and stroke volume. Heart rate is the rate at which the heart beats, while stroke volume is the amount of blood pumped per beat. Increases in cardiac output result in increased blood flow throughout the body. As a result, oxygen, which is delivered throughout the body by the blood, can be delivered and utilized by the muscles at an increased rate.
Cardiac output increases during exercise in direct proportion to the metabolic rate required to perform any given activity. In most activities, the increase in cardiac output is achieved by both an increase in stroke volume and heart rate.
Emerging research has highlighted the positive impact that DHA omega-3 can have on cardiac output.36-51 More specifically, researchers have evaluated the effects of two grams of DHA omega-3 per day and have found these levels help increase stroke volume, which increases cardiac output and promotes increased blood flow and delivery of oxygen to exercising muscles after six weeks of supplementation.36-51 Three grams of DHA per day has been shown to help lower resting heart rates after 90 days of supplementation.38,42-44,46,49-50
How can Brain Armor help?
Brain Armor provides a preformed, high dose of DHA omega-3 and emerging research has shown that DHA plays an important role in supporting a healthy heart during exercise.
Need help ordering Brain Armor? For team or professional sales information, please email BrainArmor@Martek.com.
36 Boss A, Lecoultre V, Ruffieux C, Tappy L, Schneiter P. Combined Effects of Endurance Training and Dietary Unsaturated Fatty Acids on Physical performance, Fat Oxidation, and Insulin Sensitivity. British Journal of Nutrition. 2010; 103: 1151‐59.
37Peoples G, McLennan P, Howe P, Groeller H. Fish Oil Reduces Heart Rate and Oxygen Consumption During Exercise. Cardiovasc Pharmacol. 2008; 52: 540‐47.
38 Ninio D, Hill A, Howe P, Buckley J, Burgess S, Saint D. Docosahexaenoic Acid‐Rich Fish Oil Improves Heart Rate Variability and Heart Rate Responses to Exercise in Overweight Adults. British Journal of Nutrition. 2008; 100: 1097‐103.
39 Buckley J, Burgess S, Murphy K, Howe P. DHA‐Rich Fish Oil Lowers Heart Rate During Submaximal Exercise in Elite Australian Rules Footballers. Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport. 2008; 12: 203‐7.
40 Walser B, Giodano R, Stebbins C. Supplementation with Omega‐3 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids Augments Brachial Artery Dilation and Blood Flow During Forearm Contraction. Eur J Appl Physiol. 2006; 97: 347‐54.
41 Walser B, Stebbins C. Omega‐3 Fatty Acid Supplementation Enhances Stroke Volume and Cardiac Output During Dynamic Exercise. Eur J Appl Physiol. 2008; 104: 455‐61.
42 O'Keefe J, Abuissa H, Sastre A, Steinhaus D, Harris W. Effects of Omega‐3 Fatty Acids on Resting Heart Rate, Heart Rate Recovery After Exercise, and Heart Rate Variability in Men with Healed Myocardial Infarctions and Depressed Ejection Fractions. Am J Cardiol. 2006; 97: 1127‐30.
43 Kelley D, Siegel D, Vemuri M, Mackey B. Docosahexaenoic Acid Supplementation Improves Fasting and Postprandial Lipid Profiles in Hypertriglyceridemic Men. Am J Clin Nutr. 2007; 86: 324‐33.
44 Keller D, Jurgilas S, Perry B, Blum J, Farino B, Reynolds J, et al. Docosahexanoic Acid (DHA) Lowers Triglyceride Levels and Improves Low Density Lipoprotein Particle Size in a Statin‐Treated Cardiac Risk Population. Journal of Clinical Lipidology. 2007; 1: 151.
45 Theobald H, Goodall A, Sattar N, Talbot D, Chowienczyk P, Sanders T. Low‐Dose DHA Lowers Diastolic Blood Pressure in Middle‐Aged Men and Women. The Journal of Nutrition. 2007; 137: 973‐78.
46 Stark K, Holub B. Differential Eicosapentaenoic Acid Elevations and Altered Cardiovascular Disease Risk Factor Responses After Supplementation with Docosahexaenoic Acid in Postmenopausal Women Receiving and Not Receiving Hormone Replacement Therapy. Am J Clin Nutr. 2004; 79: 765‐73.
47 Engler M, Engler M, Malloy M, Chiu E, Besio D, Paul S, et al. Docosahexaenoic Acid Restores Endothelial Function in Children with Hyperlipidemia: Results from the EARLY Study. International Journal of Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics. 2004; 42: 672‐9.
48 Mori T, Watts G, Burke V, Hilme E, Puddey I, Beilin L. Differential Effects of Eicosapentaenoic Acid and Docosahexaenoic Acid on Vascular Reactivity of the Forearm Microcirculation in Hyperlipidemic, Overweight Men. Circulation. 2000; 102: 1264‐9.
49 Mori T, Bao D, Burke V, Puddey I, Beilin L. DHA but Not EPA Lowers Abmulatory Blood Pressure and Heart Rate in Humans. Hypertension. 1999; 34: 253‐60.
50 Grimsgaard S, Honaa K, Hansen J, Myhre E. Effects of Highly Pruified EPA and DHA on Hemodynamics in Humans. Am J Clin Nutr. 1998; 68: 52‐9.
51 Harris W, Rambjor G, Windsor S, Diederich D. n‐3 Fatty Acids and Urinary Excretion of Nitric Oxide Metabolites in Humans. Am J Clin Nutr. 1997; 65: 459‐64.