Abertay study

Abertay University scientists, Dr John Babraj and Dr Ross Lorimer are conducting a study into takeOmega3 and how well it can aid recovery post-exercise. The details of their study are below. To contact them about their work and takeOmega3 click here - Dr John Babraj or Dr Ross Lorimer

The role of Omega 3 in mental and physical performance

The omega-3 fatty acids docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) both generate neuroprotective metabolites and are essential nutrients for cognitive development and the maintenance of cognitive acuity. Lowered tissue levels of DHA/EPA have been correlated with cognitive impairment and supplementation of DHA/EPA has been shown to be associated with increased cognitive function such as visual discrimination and attention. Increased levels of omega-3 have also been linked with increased vigour and reduced depression and fatigue states. Omega-3 may therefore be beneficial in high-performance environments, such as sport. In situations where accurate decision making and skill-reproduction must be carried out under fatigue conditions DHA/EPA may help by increasing recovery, reducing perceived effort, and helping maintain focus. While humans can synthesise DHA/EPA the conversion rate is slow and is not a substitute for sufficient dietary intakes. Supplementation is the most efficient means of reaching the tissue levels of DHA/EPA required for the beneficial effects that have been demonstrated.

Proposed Study: Participants will be split between an experimental and control group. Both groups will undertake bouts of maximal high-intensity exercise in the sport and performance laboratory over an extended intervention period. Initial baseline measures will be taken on the morning of day 1 and the experimental group will begin supplementation. All participants will be tested again on days 2 and 3 in order to assess the effect of acute omega-3 supplementation. Participants will then be tested at the end of weeks 1, 2, and 3 to assess the effect of longer-term supplementation. A variety of measures will be used to assess physical and cognitive performance.

(i) Each participant will wear a bio-harness that will assess heart-rate, skin-conductivity, respiratory rate, and record EMG readings.

(ii) Venous bloods samples will be taken to measure free-circulating fatty-acid levels.

(iii) During laboratory testing perceived effort and perceived fatigue will be measured immediately after each bout of maximal effort, and then perceived fatigue throughout the recovery period.

(iv) Decision making, attention, and concentration will be assessed using computer-based visual/decision-making cognitive tasks projected onto the wall in front of the participant. Tasks will be carried out pre and post-exercise, and during the recovery period.

(v) Semi-structured interviews will be carried out to explore participants’ perceptions of omega-3 supplementation. Thematic analysis will extract common themes such as their views regarding improvements in performance and increased recover after exercise.

The University of Abertay Dundee has a sport, performance, and exercise group for the collaboration of a range of disciplines including psychology and physiology. The group has been involved in examining sport supplements and has previously attracted STAR funding from the Sporting Chance Initiative. Given the interdisciplinary nature of the proposed work two researchers have identified themselves as having the necessary skills to develop a productive relationship with the company.

(i) Dr John Babraj is an exercise physiologist with substantial understanding of molecular physiology and exercise supplements, and experience of investigating high-performance sport in laboratory and field experiments. Dr Babraj has previously worked as part of successful SME product development relationships, looking into tryptophan fluorescence for early detection of cataracts, supported by grants from TTOM (5000) and NIHR (100,000), and the development of diabetic sports drinks, supported by a grant from SCI (5000).

(ii) Dr Ross Lorimer is a chartered psychologist whose previous work has focused on exploring the cognitive abilities of athletes using video-based recall methodologies, and who also has experience investigating the subjective perceptions of athletes using both interviews and psychometric instruments. Dr Lorimer has recently received grants from both the Carnegie Scholarship (2200) and ESRC (1000) to support the development of new projects.


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