Background: Recent research showed 82% of 233 retired National Football League players under age 50 had abnormal narrowing and blockages in arteries compared to the general population of the same age. It has been suggested that early screening and intervention in this at-risk population be a priority.

Hypothesis: Omega-3 essential fatty acid has been shown to improve cardiovascular lipid risk factors and should improve lipid profiles in professional football players to help reduce their recently shown accelerated risk of developing cardiovascular disease.

Methods: A total of 36 active national football players were randomly assigned to 2 groups: the first group (n = 20) was provided fish oil capsules (2200 mg of mixed docosahexaenoic acid and eicosapentaenoic acid and 360 mg of other omega-3s), and the second group (n = 16) served as controls during a 60-day trial. Vertical Auto Profile cholesterol tests directly measuring serum low-density lipoprotein, high-density lipoprotein, and other subfractions were performed. Compliance, side effects, and seafood consumption data were also collected. Baseline, midpoint, and poststudy blood work measured plasma docosahexaenoic acid and eicosapentaenoic acid.

Results: Treatment increased high-density lipoprotein (average percent change: +25.96, control +14.16), decreased triglycerides treatment (–8.06, control +43.98), very low-density lipoprotein treatment (–13.98, control +23.18), intermediate density lipoprotein (–27.58, control +12.07), remnant lipoproteins (–23.86, control +8.33), and very low-density lipoprotein-3 (–17.10, control +7.77). An average increase of 106.67% for docosahexaenoic acid and 365.82% for eicosapentaenoic acid compared to control was also shown.

Conclusion: Omega-3 supplementation significantly improved the lipid profile of active players randomized to treatment. These results suggest that fish oil supplementation is an effective way to increase eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid levels in plasma and should be considered as a method to improve modifiable cardiovascular risk lipid factors in professional football players.

Clinical Relevance: A prospective study examining the effects of 60 days of a highly purified fish oil supplementation in professional football players.


See following website for full manuscript.

Keywords: cardiac risk factors, omega-3, professional football, vertical auto profile cholesterol test

This study was conducted using Nordic Naturals ProOmega™/Ultimate Omega™
The dose used was 4 capsules/day.