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Comparative Analysis of the Fatty Acid Profile in the Diet and Blood of Athletes and Students

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The study of the metabolism of fatty acids (FAs), including essential n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (n-3 PUFAs), is of great interest in the practice of elite sports due to their significant role in the energy supply of the body and, in general, increasing physical performance (PP). Athletes (cross-country skiers), members of the national team of the Republic of Komi and Russia (boys, n = 36) and students as a control group (boys, n = 13) were examined. The level of consumption of different classes of FAs was assessed using the author’s on-line service “Fatty Acids in Products.” The FA profile in total plasma lipids was determined by gas chromatography. Analysis of the fat component of the diet revealed an increased consumption of saturated fats and n-6 PUFAs relative to the recommended norms in both groups. In students, the consumption of essential n-3 eicosapentaenoic (EPA) and docosahexaenoic (DHA) acids was significantly lower compared to skiers (p = 0.013) and the recommended norm. A suboptimal fat diet was accompanied by an imbalance in the FA profile in the blood in both groups. Cross-country skiers have significantly lower levels of saturated myristic (p = 0.000) and palmitic acids (p = 0.003), which are within the reference values. The proportion of essential n-3 linolenic acid in the blood plasma of cross-country skiers is lower than that of students (p = 0.002) and 2.2 times lower than the norm. The level of EPA in the blood in both groups was also reduced, and in students was almost 3 times more pronounced than in skiers (p = 0.000). Thus, the consumption of n-3 PUFAs by athletes in accordance with the recommended norms does not cover their consumption for energy supply and physiological functions involved in intense physical exertion and reduce the aerobic performance of the body. The results of the study can be applied in optimizing the diet and increasing the functional reserves and physical qualities of athletes and students.

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The study was carried out at the expense of subsidies for the implementation of State assignment No. GR1021051201877-3-3.1.8 (2022-2026).

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Correspondence to A. Yu. Lyudinina.

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All studies were carried out in accordance with the principles of biomedical ethics formulated in the Declaration of Helsinki of 1964 and its subsequent updates and approved by the local ethics committee of the Institute of Physiology of the Federal Research Center of the Komi Scientific Center of the Ural Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences (Syktyvkar).

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The authors declare the absence of any obvious and potential conflict of interest related to the publication of this article.

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Each participant in the study provided a voluntary written informed consent signed by him after explaining to him the potential risks and benefits, as well as the nature of the upcoming study.

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Lyudinina, A.Y. Comparative Analysis of the Fatty Acid Profile in the Diet and Blood of Athletes and Students. Hum Physiol 48, 563–568 (2022).

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