Athletes perform better and recover faster when they supplement with krill oil. Why? Krill oil promotes an optimal Omega-3 Index. While this biomarker is typically associated with heart health, emerging research reveals that the Omega-3 Index is also one reason why athletes should consider adding krill oil to their training – and recovery – routine.
The Omega-3 Index moves beyond heart health
The Omega-3 Index may sound complicated, but it’s actually quite simple. It measures two omega-3 fats (EPA and DHA) in your red blood cell membranes, expressed as a percent of the total fatty acids. For a quick primer on the Omega-3 Index, see our post with all the basics here.
In one meta-analysis, Stanford researchers and colleagues found an Omega-3 Index of at least 8 percent is an ideal therapeutic target for heart health.1 It’s also the target for sports performance.
How krill oil increases the Omega-3 Index
Unlike traditional sources of omega-3s such as fish oil, krill oil contains EPA and DHA bound to phospholipids. In this highly bioavailable form, your body readily absorbs these omega-3 fatty acids, which are then taken up by red blood cell membranes to support a healthy Omega-3 Index.
Elite athletes benefit from supplementing with krill oil
Aker BioMarine recently collaborated with Oslo University Hospital in Norway to test the sports performance effects of their krill oil omega-3 fatty acids.
For this pilot study, the researchers followed 50 elite athletes who completed in the Norway’s Norseman Xtreme Triathlon, one of the world’s toughest triathlons of Ironman distance. Each athlete took Aker’s krill oil supplement (4 grams per day) for a 5-week period after the grueling race.
The best predictor of race performance
Turns out, an athlete’s Omega-3 Index was one of the best predictors of race performance. Athletes who had an Omega-3 Index above 8 percent finished the bike leg a full 48 minutes faster, on average, than those with lower values.
The researchers also found the post-race krill oil supplement increased the average Omega-3 Index to over 8 percent (the optimal range). Those athletes with the highest Omega-3 Indices (top 50 percent) were also able to return to intensive training following the triathlon significantly faster than those in the bottom 50 percent.
You can learn more about the Norseman’s pilot study here.
For now, these preliminary findings suggest supplementing with krill oil after a high-intensity race is especially important for elite athletes. The researchers are now conducting a more robust placebo-controlled study to confirm these findings and investigate other benefits of krill oil for athletes.
Krill oil also supports exercise recovery in everyday athletes
In another study, researchers found krill oil offers fitness benefits for healthy adults as well. For this study, researchers randomly assigned 32 healthy adults to take a krill oil supplement (2 grams) or a placebo daily for 6 weeks. They collected blood samples before and after supplementation while at rest and after a high-intensity exercise test (cycling time trial) to analyze immune biomarkers, the Omega-3 Index and other parameters. Compared to the placebo, the krill oil supplement significantly improved immune function after the intense exercise. Those in the krill oil group also increased their Omega-3 Index from 5 to 7 percent, on average.2
The bottom line
Both elite athletes and active adults can benefit from an Omega-3 Index in the optimal range not only for heart health but for sports performance and exercise recovery.
Adding a high-quality omega-3 supplement like Omega-3 Phospholipid 500mg to your daily routine can help. Each softgel features Aker’s Superba™ 100% Pure Krill Oil.
After all, any supplement worthy of your training table should be backed by sound science.
1. Harris WS, Del Gobbo L, Tintle NL. The Omega-3 Index and relative risk for coronary heart disease mortality: estimation from 10 cohort studies. Atherosclerosis. 2017;262:51-54. PMID: 28511049.
2. Da Boit M, Mastalurova I, Brazaite G, McGovern N, Thompson K, Gray SR. The effect of krill oil supplementation on exercise performance and markers of immune function. PLoS One. 2015;10(9):e0139174. PMID: 26407095.
* These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.