Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids Increase Muscle Mass & Function In Older Adults
Title: Fish oil–derived Omega 3 polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA) therapy increases muscle mass and function in healthy older adults
Author: Smith, et al.
Journal: American Journal of Clinical Nutrition
Objective: To evaluate the efficacy of fish oil derived Omega 3 polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA) therapy to slow the age-associated loss of muscle mass and function
The loss of muscle mass as we age is called, in medical terms, sarcopenia. From birth until around age 30, we are constantly building muscle, and after age 30 our body stops building muscle naturally and we begin to slowly lose it. Sedentary folks who don’t exercise can lose as much as 3-5% per decade.
This muscle loss has profound implications to your immediate physical health and overall trajectory of your medical health. Loss of muscle mass and strength can influence:
- Risk of gait instability and falls
- Risk of fractures
- Loss of endurance
- Fatigue, weakness, reduced activity tolerance
Obviously, these changes have significant implications as time progresses. For example, if your musculoskeletal weakness leads to a fall and a hip fracture, you may require surgery, rehab and physical therapy and all the risks associated with that.
There are some very fundamental techniques to maintain muscle mass as we age which includes primarily:
- Adequate protein intake
Additionally, hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is being utilized in some cases but it’s broad employment in the general population is limited by undesirable side effects. As such, researchers are looking for other methods to improve lean skeletal muscle in aging adults.
Accordingly, the authors of this study spent 6 months supplementing polyunsaturated fatty acids in aging adults to assess its efficacy on muscle volume, strength, and isokinetic power.
60 healthy adults (60–85 years old, men and women) were randomly assigned to receive omega 3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (n = 40) or a placebo of corn oil (n = 20) therapy for 6 mo.
Thigh muscle volume, handgrip strength, one-repetition maximum (1-RM) lower- and upper-body strength, and average power during isokinetic leg exercises were evaluated before and after treatment.
44 subjects completed the study
- 29 subjects (73%) in the omega 3 polyunsaturated fatty acid group;
- 15 subjects (75%) in the control group
(Compared with the control group) 6 months of omega 3 polyunsaturated fatty acid therapy increased:
- Thigh muscle volume (3.6%; 95% CI: 0.2%, 7.0%),
- Handgrip strength (2.3 kg; 95% CI: 0.8, 3.7 kg),
- 1-RM muscle strength (4.0%; 95% CI: 0.8%, 7.3%) (all of these were statistically significant)
- There was a trend to increase average isokinetic power (5.6%; 95% CI: 20.6%, 11.7%; P =0.075). (However this was not statistically significant).
Omega 3 polyunsaturated fatty acid improved muscle volume and strength in older adults. This should be considered as a simple therapeutic approach for preventing age related muscle loss (sarcopenia) and maintaining physical activity in aging adults.
Smith, G. I., Julliand, S., & Reeds, D. N. (2015). Fish oil-derived n-3 PUFA therapy increases muscle mass and function in healthy older adults. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 102(1), 115-122. doi:10.3945/ajcn.114.105833