New Omega 3 study reveals krill oil may help improve performance of World’s Toughest Triathletes

Aker BioMarine, Pure Science Triathlon team and Norseman have pioneered a study that examines the effects of krill oil omega-3s on athletic performance and recovery.


A new study released has revealed that supplementation with omega-3 krill oil particularly DHA and EPA, has been shown to strengthen markers of immune function following intense exercise in triathletes, helping to improve their performance and recovery.

The study conducted by Aker BioMarine, Pure Science Triathlon team and Norseman, examined the effects of krill oil omega-3s on athletic performance and recovery of some of the world’s toughest triathletes and found that higher omega-3 levels were associated with less illness during training and better performance during the race. The study also found that athletes with higher omega-3 levels recovered faster after the race.

Study leader, Dr. Andreas Berg Storsve, Director R&D at Aker BioMarine said Omega-3s are some of the most important nutrients that our bodies need. They are essential for maintaining and supporting cardiovascular, brain, eye and joint health and we have found they are also important for sports endurance and recovery.

“We know that high-intensity training has an impact on immune function and inflammation, making athletes especially vulnerable to illness and infections. This study is extremely exciting as it has shown has a direct impact on the athletes’ physical recovery and performance,” Dr Storsve explained. 

The pilot study conducted during the world-renowned triathlon, the Norseman 2017, which measured omega 3 levels before and after the race, clearly showed a drop in omega-3 levels following high-intensity exercise. 

“Phospholipid-bound omega-3 fatty acids found in krill oil, particularly DHA and EPA, are highly anti-inflammatory and have been shown to strengthen markers of immune function following maximal exercise,” said Dr. Storsve. “Krill oil consumption may therefore help to reduce the risk of infection and circumvent training disruptions in athletes.”

Naturopath, Nutritionist and long-distance runner, Stephen Eddey said: “Previous studies have shown that eight out of every ten Australians have below target omega-3 levels which is of real concern as high levels of omega-3 are also linked to improved cardiovascular health, reduction in inflammatory conditions and mood disorders. 

“Unlike traditional sources of omega-3s such as fish oil, the long-chain omega-3 fatty acids found in Antarctic krill are in phospholipid, rather than triglyceride form which means omega-3 phospholipids are delivered much more effectively to tissues and cells than triglycerides and play a vital role in keeping membranes functioning, Mr Eddey continued.

“This study is important as it demonstrates yet another benefit of omega-3 krill oil and the potential impact it may have on improving overall health of not just elite athletes but Australians generally, Mr Eddey concluded.

Another important finding of the study, Dr. Storsve said, is that the Omega-3 Index was shown to be the second-best predictor of bike leg time – after exercise volume and ahead of important factors such as pre-race injuries, illness and early-life fitness level. According to Dr. Storsve, this can be a game-changer for the top athletes. 

“In order to thoroughly research the effects of omega-3 DHA and EPA in regards to maximal exercise, we didn’t have to look far. Norseman athletes are some of the strongest competitors in the world. The fact that these incredible athletes are meticulous in their training, routines and diet, makes them the perfect research subjects.” 

2016 Norseman winner Kari Flottorp Lingsom outlines the extreme training demands of the race, “Preparing for the Norseman is a very intense period. It is not just a four-week gig. It is more like eight, nine months with two to four hard-core workouts a day.”

Elite athlete and former World Ironman under 24 Champion Hans Christian Tungesvik., said, “To perform at the maximum level, I need to give my body the nutrients that it needs, particularly to avoid injury and illness, because that enables me to get the consistent training I need for a race like Norseman.”

“Obviously omega-3s are an important part of my diet and nutrition, so I am really eager to see how krill oil can affect my performance and recovery,” says Tungesvik.

Since testing a random group of 50 athletes from 2017 Norseman field, the 2018 research study will enable a more in-depth, systematic study of the importance of phospholipids for recovery in both training and competition.  

“During 2018 Norseman we will be testing for specific biomarkers of inflammation and immune responses as well as the effects of choline, which is a central component of krill oil, on performance and recovery,” says Dr. Storsve. “By doing so, we will get a more complete understanding of the nutritional factors that help athletes optimize their performance. However, the results so far suggest that krill oil can have a real impact in the world of sports.” 

About Krill Oil

Krill are small, shrimp-like crustaceans predominantly found in Antarctic waters. The long chain omega-3s found in krill oil are part of the structural basis of our cell membranes. Krill oil is known to naturally contain the antioxidant Astaxanthin, a powerful red-orange carotenoid antioxidant, that provides the red colour of Red Krill Oil. The omega-3’s in krill oil have been shown to be beneficial for supporting joint inflammation, heart health, brain health and eye health.

Krill oil delivers omega-3 fatty acids mostly in phospholipid, rather than triglyceride form, providing an efficient means of delivering these vital fatty acids at lower dosages than fish oil.

About The Isklar Norseman Xtreme Triathlon 

The Isklar Norseman Xtreme Triathlon is considered the ultimate triathlon in the world. Racing through some of the most beautiful landscapes in Norway, those who are able to finish at the rocky peak of Gaustatoppen (located at 1,850m above sea level) can say that they travelled one of the toughest full distance triathlon on planet earth. And in addition to the grueling physical aspect of the race, the weather can range from beautiful and sunny to a blasting wind and blizzards, sometimes all in one day.

Text: Tania Paccanaro | The 6am Agency

Image: Kyle Meyr

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