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Effectiveness of Fish Oil Supplementation in Attenuating Exercise-Induced Muscle Damage in Women During Midfollicular and Midluteal Menstrual Phases

McKinley-Barnard, Sarah, K.1; Andre, Thomas, L.2; Gann, Joshua, J.3; Hwang, Paul, S.4; Willoughby, Darryn, S.4

Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research: June 2018 - Volume 32 - Issue 6 - p 1601–1612
doi: 10.1519/JSC.0000000000002247
Original Research

McKinley-Barnard, SK, Andre, TL, Gann, JJ, Hwang, PS, and Willoughby, DS. Effectiveness of fish oil supplementation in attenuating exercise-induced muscle damage in females during midfollicular and midluteal menstrual phases. J Strength Cond Res 32(6): 1601–1612, 2018—The purpose of this study was to determine whether the differences in estrogen levels during the female menstrual cycle and fish oil supplementation would attenuate eccentric exercise-induced muscle damage and delayed-onset muscle soreness (DOMS). In a double-blind fashion, 22 physically active females (20.9 ± 1.4 years, 63.5 ± 9.0 kg, 165.2 ± 7.5 cm) were randomly assigned to ingest either 6 g of fish oil (n = 11) or placebo (n = 11) daily for 21 days. Participants underwent an eccentric exercise bout of the knee extensors on 2 occasions during the midfollicular (MF) and midluteal (ML) phases of the 28-day menstrual cycle. Before (PRE), at 6 (6HRPOST), and at 24 hours postexercise (24HRPOST) for each session, participants underwent assessments of DOMS, muscle strength, and had venous blood samples and muscle biopsies obtained. Data were analyzed using a 2 × 2 × 3 repeated-measures multivariate analysis of variance for each criterion variable (p ≤ 0.05). Further analysis of the main effects for the test was performed using separate 1-way analyses of variance. Delayed-onset muscle soreness was significantly greater at the 6HRPOST and 24HRPOST timepoints compared with PRE (p < 0.001). Superoxide dismutase and tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-α) concentrations were significantly higher at the MF phase compared with the ML phase (p < 0.001 and p = 0.05, respectively). There were no statistically significant differences observed for muscle strength, myoglobin, NF-Kβ p50, or NF-Kβ p65. This study demonstrates that higher levels of estrogen may exert a cytoprotective effect on the sarcolemma.

1Department of Health, Kinesiology, and Sport, University of South Alabama, Mobile, Alabama;

2Department of Health and Fitness Management, Clayton State University, Morrow, Georgia;

3Department of Kinesiology, University of Louisiana-Monroe, Monroe, Louisiana; and

4Exercise and Biochemical Nutrition Laboratory, Department of Health, Human Performance, and Recreation, Baylor University, Waco, Texas

Address correspondence to Darryn S. Willoughby,

Copyright © 2018 by the National Strength & Conditioning Association.