Posted on Mar 14, 2011, 6 a.m.
Daily supplements of omega-3 fatty acids may reduce the risk of degenerative muscle loss (sarcopenia).
Sarcopenia, the loss of muscle mass with aging, is a major public health concern. Previous studies have found that omega-3 fatty acids stimulate protein anabolism in animals, and might therefore be useful for the treatment of sarcopenia. However, the effect of omega-3 fatty acids on human protein metabolism is unknown. Bettina Mittendorfer, PhD, from Washington University School of Medicine (Missouri, USA), and colleagues studied 16 healthy adults, average age 71 years, and an average BMI of 25.65 kg/m2, assigning each to receive either omega-3s (providing provided a daily dose of 1.86 grams of EPA [eicosapentaenoic acid] and 1.5 grams of DHA [docosahexaenoic acid]), or corn oil (placebo) for eight weeks. At the end of the study period, the researchers found that the omega-3 fatty acid supplementation increased the rate of muscle protein synthesis associated and increased the supply of amino acids and insulin. The team concludes that: “Omega-3 fatty acids stimulate muscle protein synthesis in older adults and may be useful for the prevention and treatment of sarcopenia.”