Recently, omega-3s were shown to increase muscle synthesis in older adults. And, in related research, to enhance the effects of strength training in elderly women.
Sixteen healthy older adults took either omega-3 fatty acids or corn oil for eight weeks. The corn oil had, in the researcher’s own words, “… no effect on the muscle protein synthesis rate and the extent of anabolic signalling element phosphorylation in muscle.” In English, that means that the tissue-building signals in muscle weren’t activated.
By contrast, the omega-3 fatty acids “augmented the… increase in the rate of muscle protein synthesis significantly above basal values.” The researchers concluded: “Omega-3 fatty acids stimulate muscle protein synthesis in older adults and may be useful for the prevention and treatment of sarcopenia.” In English, that means they built muscle tissue while preventing and treating a loss of muscle mass.
Increased muscle strength and real-world results
In another study, 45 elderly women, ranging in age from 63-65, were divided into three groups. All did the same muscle- strength training programme. However, one group took 2,000mg of fish oil with omega-3 for 90 days before the muscle training and one group took the same amount for 150 days before training.
All three groups experienced increases in muscle strength, but the effect was significantly greater in the two groups who took fish oil.2 Researchers also noted that the volunteers in the fish oil groups were able to rise more quickly from a chair than the group that did just strength training alone.
If you haven’t added fish oil or a considerable amount of non-farm raised fish to your diet by now, you might want to consider it. Remember, omega-3 fatty acids are essential for brain function, controlling inflammation, keeping blood from clotting too easily, and many other important health-maintaining and longevity-promoting functions in the body.
As the study I mentioned earlier showed, 2,000mg daily is required to have an effect on muscle synthesis and functional capacity. However, make sure to check with a doctor skilled and knowledgeable in natural and nutritional medicine about whether that’s enough for you.
Don’t forget two other basics about fish oil supplementation: the DHA fraction should be higher in women’s fish oil supplements, and for men the EPA fraction should be higher. And make sure you’re also taking approximately 400 IU of vitamin E in the mixed tocopherol form daily.Wishing you the best of health,
Dr. Jonathan V. Wright
Nutrition & Healing
Vol. 9, Issue 4 • April 2015
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