June 30, 2021, Sioux Falls, SD: OmegaQuant, the leader in omega-3 fatty acid testing, recently collaborated with researchers to measure the Omega-3 Index in NBA basketball players. This study was published in the July 2021 issue of the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research.
Several prior studies have investigated omega-3 blood status (i.e., Omega-3 Index) in Division I college athletes. However, limited work has been done with professional athletes. This new research is the first to assess omega-3 intake and the Omega-3 Index in a sample of NBA basketball players who play in the G-League, which is the official minor league of basketball.
Since there is no universally accepted method to assess omega-3 status, the researchers in this study chose to use the Omega-3 Index from OmegaQuant because it has been used in more than 200 clinical studies.
According to the study authors, the most common nutritional strategies investigated with basketball players have been carbohydrates and hydration to help players not only to perform on the court but also to recover from competition. However, recent studies demonstrate that supplementing with omega-3s EPA and DHA helps attenuate strength loss, increase anti-inflammatory cytokines, promote improved range of motion, and decrease muscle soreness. But as this recent study shows, most of these athletes don’t get enough of these important fatty acids in their diet.
Of the 119 players evaluated, more than a third reported consuming no fish in their diet per week, while 61% reported consuming less than two servings of fish per week. Only about 10% of those studied took an omega-3 supplement.
Of the 12 players taking a supplement, 11 players reported supplementing with fish oil and one player supplemented with a commercially available omega-3 nutrition bar. Not surprisingly, the players who did take an omega-3 supplement had a higher average Omega-3 Index compared to those who did take a supplement.
Ninety-eight percent of the players studied had an Omega-3 Index below 8%, which is the optimal level of omega-3s in the blood that research suggests offers the most health benefits. The players who supplemented with omega-3s had a higher average Omega-3 Index of 6% and those who did not supplement had mean Omega-3 Index of 4.9%.
It is interesting to note that the elite athletes in the current study had a slightly higher Omega-3 Index compared with Division I college athletes, especially considering that players in the current study reported similar fish intake per week as other studies with Division I college athletes.
With a large number of players in the current study not consuming recommend amounts of fish in their diet per week, researchers believe supplementation with omega-3s EPA and DHA may provide a practical manner for increasing their Omega-3 Index. From the authors’ previous experience with the NBA G-League, some teams do provide omega-3 supplementation to players during the season. “If supplementation is implemented, teams are encouraged to periodically monitor individual players’ blood concentrations of omega-3s,” they said.
VP Communications, OmegaQuant
OmegaQuant is an independent, CLIA-certified lab that offers nutritional status testing to researchers, clinicians and the public. OmegaQuant performs analysis in Sioux Falls, SD, for commercial and academic research collaborators, and for consumers interested in monitoring their nutritional status in both blood and breast milk. Its goal is to offer the highest quality fatty acid analytical services to researchers and to provide simple tests of nutritional status to consumers, with the ultimate purpose of advancing the science and use of certain nutrients to improve health. Most recently, OmegaQuant formed a partnership with CSIRO to help process lab samples coming from Australia and the APAC region, with a lab based in Adelaide, Australia. OmegaQuant also has a lab partnership with the University of Stirling, based in the Scotland, to help process blood samples from Europe.