Science in Action: Omega-3 (time of day effect)

Flaxseed oil seems to have detectable effects within hours. For example, I increased the dose in the evening and my balance was better the next morning. To get some sense of the time course of the effect, I varied the time of day that I took the flaxseed. I usually took it around 10 pm; I tried 10 am instead. I continued to test my balance around 7 am.

Here are the results from an ABA experiment.

Taking 3 tablespoons at 10 am produced better results than taking the same amount at 10 pm. I fit lines with equal slope to both the A (10 pm) and B (10 am) treatments, as the graph shows. The two lines had different intercepts, p < .05. Although 10 am produces better balance, it produces worse sleep — more evidence that the sleep improvement and the balance improvement are due to different mechanisms. I want both improvements, so I am going to split my dose — half in the morning, half in the evening.

Of course, the fact that time of day of flaxseed oil matters is more reason to think that presence/absence of flaxseed oil matters. It is very hard to explain these results in terms of expectations: I had no reason to expect one time to be better than the other.

4 Replies to “Science in Action: Omega-3 (time of day effect)”

  1. I notice these positive effects you have been talking about as well. I also like how I tend to sleep better when itake the oil in the evenings. However, I wonder if this does not hamper my weight-loss efforts by inhibiting the production of growth hormone. I have heard (I believe it is a prominent cycling training manual) that going to sleep on an empty stomach will trigger more production of HGH to help with weight loss. But I am not sure if fat alone will hinder this process or if it is only carbs that hinders it. Any thoughts?

  2. I have never seen any data that supports the idea that more production of HGH helps with weight loss. If there is zero data, I wouldn’t worry about it.

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