Eicosapentaenoic and docosahexaenoic acids-rich fish oil supplementation attenuates strength loss and limited joint range of motion after eccentric contractions: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, parallel-group trial

Eur J Appl Physiol. 2016 Jun;116(6):1179-88. doi: 10.1007/s00421-016-3373-3. Epub 2016 Apr 16.


Purpose: This study investigated the effect of eicosapentaenoic and docosahexaenoic acids-rich fish oil (EPA + DHA) supplementation on eccentric contraction-induced muscle damage.

Methods: Twenty-four healthy men were randomly assigned to consume the EPA + DHA supplement (EPA, n = 12) or placebo (PL, n = 12) by the double-blind method. Participants consumed EPA + DHA or placebo supplement for 8 weeks prior to exercise and continued it until 5 days after exercise. The EPA group consumed EPA + DHA-rich fish oil containing 600 mg EPA and 260 mg DHA per day. Subjects performed five sets of six maximal eccentric elbow flexion exercises. Changes in the maximal voluntary contraction (MVC) torque, range of motion (ROM), upper arm circumference, muscle soreness as well as serum creatine kinase, myoglobin, IL-6, and TNF-α levels in blood were assessed before, immediately after, and 1, 2, 3, and 5 days after exercise.

Results: MVC was significantly higher in the EPA group than in the PL group at 2-5 days after exercise (p < 0.05). ROM was also significantly greater in the EPA group than in the PL group at 1-5 days after exercise (p < 0.05). At only 3 days after exercise, muscle soreness of the brachialis was significantly greater in the PL group than in the EPA group (p < 0.05), with a concomitant increase in serum IL-6 levels in the PL group.

Conclusion: Eight-week EPA + DHA supplementation attenuates strength loss and limited ROM after exercise. The supplementation also attenuates muscle soreness and elevates cytokine level, but the effect is limited.

Keywords: Docosahexaenoic acids; Eicosapentaenoic acid; Lengthening contractions; Muscle dysfunction; Muscle strength; Supplement.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Dietary Supplements
  • Docosahexaenoic Acids / administration & dosage
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Drug Combinations
  • Eicosapentaenoic Acid / administration & dosage
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3 / administration & dosage*
  • Fish Oils / administration & dosage
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Muscle Strength / drug effects*
  • Muscle Weakness / etiology
  • Muscle Weakness / physiopathology*
  • Muscle Weakness / prevention & control*
  • Myalgia / etiology
  • Myalgia / physiopathology
  • Myalgia / prevention & control*
  • Placebo Effect
  • Range of Motion, Articular / drug effects
  • Resistance Training / adverse effects*
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Drug Combinations
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3
  • Fish Oils
  • Docosahexaenoic Acids
  • Eicosapentaenoic Acid