Applications of Fish Oil Supplementation for Special Operators


Heileson JL, Funderburk LK, Cardaci TD 21(1). 78 - 85 (Journal Article)

Fish oil supplementation (FOS) is beneficial for human health and various disease states. FOS has recently received attention related to its anabolic and anti-catabolic effects on skeletal muscle and cognitive performance. Since Special Operations Forces (SOF) personnel endure rigorous combat and training environments that are mentally and physically demanding, FOS may have important applications for the SOF Warfighter. The purpose of this narrative review is to explore the evidence for FOS and its application to multiple physiological and psychological contexts experienced by SOF personnel. For physical performance, FOS may promote lean body mass (LBM) accretion; however, there seems to be minimal impact on strength, power, or endurance. During physiological stress, FOS may preserve strength, power, LBM (during muscle disuse, not weight loss) and enhance recovery. For cognition, FOS likely improves reaction time, mental fatigue, and may reduce the incidence and severity of mild traumatic brain injury; however, FOS has minimal impact on attentional control and mood states. No safety concerns were evident. In conclusion, there are multiple applications of FOS for SOF personnel. Due to the minimal safety concerns and potential anabolic, anti-catabolic and cognitive benefits, FOS is a viable method to promote and sustain SOF Warfighter physical and cognitive performance. Although promising, the FOS trials to date have not been conducted in the context of the multi-stressor environments experienced by SOF personnel, thus, future studies should be conducted in a SOF population.

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