For decades, the baby-boomer generation has taken a proactive approach to health and wellness, placing a significant amount of value in a number of dietary supplement – including omega-3s! As it turns out, certain omega-3s may be key for maintaining life-long muscle health.
If there’s one thing that the baby-boomer generation has made clear, it’s that they value their independence and mobility – especially now that many of them have made their way into their retirement years.
One of the more common components of aging, especially for those over 50 years of age, is a decrease in the quality, strength, and total mass of skeletal muscle cells.
Links Between Fish Oil Omega-3s and Muscle Mass in Seniors
According to a study performed by researchers at the Center for Human Nutrition at Washington University’s School of Medicine, healthy seniors who supplement their diets with fish oil-derived omega-3s may see an increase in muscle function and mass.
Performed as a randomized, double-blind, and controlled trial – the researchers worked with sixty volunteers, healthy men and women, who were between the ages of 60 and 85. Over the course of six months, members of the test group were given 3.6 grams of EPA/DHA omega-3-rich fish oils daily. The control group was given a corn oil placebo.
At the end of the six month trial, researcher tested the hand-grip strength, thigh muscle volume, average power during isokenetic leg exercises, and one-repetition maximum upper- and lower-body strength for each participant – and compared the results to those that had been recorded at the start of the study.
While the researchers found no statistically significant changes in overall body mass, fat, or inter-muscle fat – they did find that for participants in the omega-3 group there had been a significant increase in thigh muscle volume, single-repetition muscle strength, hand-grip strength, as well as knee extension and flexion.
From these results researchers were able to conclude that
Based on the study results, the researchers concluded that fish oil-derived omega-3 PUFA therapy “should be considered a therapeutic approach for preventing sarcopenia and maintaining physical independence in older adults.”
What’s the significance?
In the words of Bettina Mittendorfer, PhD, one of the study’s authors:
“This is an important development and has direct clinical relevance, as currently, besides vitamin D, there are no treatments good enough for the prevention and treatment of sarcopenia aside from regular exercise, which is difficult to adhere to especially in older peoples […] In addition, our findings open avenues for the discovery of potential new cellular mechanism that are critical for the regulation of muscle mass and function, which we plan to pursue in the near future.”
If the results of this study continue to hold true, than fish oil-derived omega-3s may be able to provide baby-boomers and other 50+ consumers with a means for minimizing the effects of aging-related muscle loss.
And to be able to minimize the effects of muscle loss means? Well that has the potential to translate to a near-priceless trade-off – a higher-quality of life for a longer number of years.
- Smith GI et al., “Fish oil-derived n-3 PUFA therapy increases muscle mass and function in healthy older adults,”The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, vol. 102, no. 1 (July 2015): 115–122