Mussels and Muscles: Supplement Reduces Exercise Muscle Damage

Supplement Reduces Exercise Muscle Damage

New research finds that a marine oil supplement reduces exercise muscle damage in untrained men.

Go into a sports nutrition store and you’ll see mountains of supplements that supposedly help you recover and perform better. Many of these products have questionable or non-existing scientific evidence to support their wild claims or simply word claims vaguely to avoid any liability. In this supplement-heap there are some that actually have been studied and show a positive effect. New research from Indiana University finds that a marine oil supplement reduces exercise muscle damage in untrained male participants.

Marine Oil Supplement Reduces Exercise Muscle Damage

The findings were published in the Journal of International Society of Sports Nutrition.

In this study researchers investigated the effects of marine oil, PSCO-524, an omega-3 oil derived from New Zealand green-lipped mussels. Researchers found that supplementation with this omega-3 oil for about four weeks reduced muscle damage caused by exercise.

This study used 32 untrained male subject who exercised less than three times/week for no more than 30 minutes per session. The untrained men were randomly assigned to two groups of 16, one received the marine oil supplement while the other received a comparable supplement, a placebo made-up of olive oil.

Before testing started participants were evaluated physically and blood tests taken to establish a baseline of fitness. The study took place over about a month. The effect group received supplements of the blue mussel oil, 8 capsules per day totaling 0.8g olive oil and 0.4g lipid extract. The placebo group ingested the same amount of capsules totaling 1.2 grams of olive oil instead of the omega-3 supplements. Participants ingested either the supplements or placebo for 26 days before performing a heavy bout of exercise, the supplementation then continued for four days after completing the exercise.

The exercise consisted of running at high intensity for 20 minutes at a down hill angle on a treadmill, a muscle-damaging exercise session. Researchers then tested how the body reacted to the muscle-damaging exercise directly after, 24, 48, 72 and 96 hours post-workout.

Researchers found that the group on the marine oil supplement had less soreness, less muscle pain, less strength loss, less fatigue and less inflammatory proteins in blood samples compared to controls. Their bodies were better able to handle the stress associated with exercise.

“It might have positive implications for triathletes if they’re doing several different types of exercises, and it could potentially help diminish soreness in multisport, recreational athletes as well,” he said. “Essentially, for anyone who is engaging in unaccustomed exercise, it’s a nice product.” study leader kinesiology professor Timothy Mickleborough.

Though this study found that this supplement reduces post exercise muscle damage it should be interpreted carefully. Earlier studies on the same supplement have either found no effect, though at lower doses, or positive effects. If the omega-3 derived from the blue mussels really helps with exercise associated damage remains to be seen.

Image Credit: Peter Rosbjerg via, CC BY-ND 2.0