Fish oils have traditionally been used to reduce inflammation associated with joint stiffness and arthritis—but a new study suggests they may enhance the immune system as well. Researchers published in this month’s Brain Behavior and Immunology that fish oils taken post-exercise can enhance immune function. Researchers had subjects perform an hour of cardio at 70% of their max heart rate, then consume fish oil or placebo oil, 3 grams per day. Blood samples were taken pre-supplementation, pre-exercise (post-supplementation), immediately, and one and three hours post-exercise.
The samples revealed that three hours post-exercise, PBMC IL-2 (a protein that regulates the activities of the immune system’s white blood cells, and is a natural killer of viruses) was greater in the group taking fish oil than in the control group.
Bottom line: Taking fish oils after exercise can enhance the actions of the immune system and possibly prevent colds and drops in immune function after exercise.
REFERENCE: Gray P, et al., Brain Behav Immun., Aug. 10, 2012.