I, along with another twenty million people in the United States, suffer with asthma. Fortunately, my asthma is considered generally mild. I do not require medication on a regular basis, but I can have brief flare-ups from time to time.
I attribute the mildness of my asthma to the multiple nutrients and vitamins that I take on a regular basis. I do find that if I exercise aggressively, I can bring on some bronchoconstriction (narrowing of the bronchial tubes).
I was quite pleased to see an article that appeared in the current edition of the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine regarding the use of fish oil for exercise induced bronchoconstriction (EIB).
In this small study, ten elite athletes with EIB and ten elite athletes without this condition participated in a double-blinded, randomized cross-over study. All participants in this study continued with their normal diet, although half of the individuals with EIB were given fish oil capsules containing 3.2 grams of EPA and 2.2 grams of DHA which they took on a daily basis. The other group who experienced exercise induced asthma was given placebo capsules containing only olive oil.
The participants took the nutrients for three weeks. After a two-week washout period, the volunteers switched groups. Before exercise, there was no significant difference in the group that was given fish oil versus the group that was given placebo. However, after exercise, those individuals treated with a high dose of fish oil had a significant improvement in lung function compared to those who just took placebo capsules.
In addition, certain markers in the blood indicating lung inflammation were also significantly improved in the group treated with fish oil. The authors concluded that the data suggested that dietary fish oil supplementation has a markedly protective effect in suppressing exercise induced bronchoconstriction in elite athletes, which they felt may be attributed to the anti-inflammatory properties of the fish oil.
After I reviewed this article, the first thing I did was take more fish oil.
Look for supplements of softgel that contains 400 mg of EPA and 200 mg of DHA. Find a supplement using only pharmaceutical-grade fresh deep sea fish body oils that have been molecularly distilled (make sure it does not contain fish liver oils). This is believed to be the best way to concentrate and purify essential fatty acids and guarantee safety from heavy metals or PCB contaminants.
As a result of reading this article, I plan to significantly increase my intake of EPA and DHA. In addition to being helpful in exercise induced asthma, there have been numerous studies showing other possible benefits such as: reducing the risk of sudden death by preventing heart arrhythmia, improving cardiovascular function, reducing the risk of cancer, improving mood, and reducing the risk of cognitive impairment in later years. If you are an asthma sufferer or know someone who is, I urge all of you to increase your fish oil intake. In fact, the White House actually came out publicly recommending Americans increase their fish oil intake.
For those that that cannot swallow softgels (some children, elderly people, etc.) I recommend considering a product that is a flavored powder you can take directly from the packet, or mix with cold foods (such as yogurt) or beverages.
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