Muscles benefit from omega 3

Muscles benefit from omega 3

Life Extension Update

Tuesday, June 2, 2015. Findings from a clinical trial reported online on May 20, 2015 in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition reveal improvements in muscle mass and function in adults supplemented with omega 3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) in comparison with a placebo group.

"Results from studies conducted in cancer patients, people with rheumatoid arthritis, and resistance-exercise–trained people suggested that fish oil–derived omega 3 PUFAs can stimulate muscle growth and enhance strength," Gordon I. Smith and colleagues note in their introduction to the article. "However, to our knowledge, a robust assessment of their effects on muscle mass and function in the older adult population has not been made."

Researchers at Missouri's Washington University School of Medicine randomized 60 men and women between the ages of 60 and 85 years to receive supplements containing a total of 1.86 grams eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and 1.5 grams docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), or a placebo daily for six months. In addition to blood omega 3 levels and other factors, thigh muscle volume, handgrip strength, one-repetition maximum upper and lower body strength, and average isokinetic muscle power were evaluated at the beginning of the study, at three months (with the exception of thigh muscle volume) and at the end of the treatment period.

After six months, red blood cell omega 3 levels had increased by 135% among those who received the fatty acids while remaining unchanged in the placebo group. Thigh muscle volume, handgrip strength and one-repetition maximum muscle strength were significantly increased in omega 3 fatty acid supplemented participants in comparison with the control group at six months. Average isokinetic muscle power also showed a tendency toward improvement after six months in the omega 3 group.

"Results from our study show that fish oil–derived omega 3 PUFA therapy has clinically important muscle anabolic and physical performance–enhancing effects in older adults," the authors conclude. "Additional studies are needed to determine whether long-term omega 3 PUFA therapy can sufficiently slow the declines in muscle mass and function that normally occur in older adults to significantly delay or even prevent sarcopenia and a loss of physical independence or cure it in already sarcopenic persons."

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EPA reduces fat cell growth and inflammation in obese mice
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The March 2015 issue of the Journal of Nutrition reported the discovery of a reduction in adipocyte (fat cell) size and inflammation in mice given a high fat diet supplemented with eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA, an omega 3 polyunsaturated fatty acid) compared to those that received an unsupplemented high fat diet.

The current study analyzed white adipose tissue from animals utilized in an experiment that compared the effects of a low fat diet, a high fat diet, a high fat diet that contained EPA for eleven weeks, and six weeks of a high fat diet followed by the addition of EPA for five weeks. In comparison with those that received the high fat diet alone, the diet combined with EPA resulted in decreased body weight, body fat, adipocyte size and macrophage infiltration into fat tissue (an indicator of inflammation). While there were no significant differences in body or fat pad weights between mice fed a high fat diet and those given the high fat diet supplemented after six weeks with EPA, the latter group had lower average adipocyte size and macrophage infiltration, indicating that EPA could prevent as well as reverse adipocyte inflammation and hypertrophy resulting from high fat feeding.

In experimentation involving cultured mouse fat cells, the researchers, from Texas Tech University in Lubbock, determined that EPA helped regulate mitochondrial function by increasing oxygen consumption and fatty acid oxidation.

"In this study we showed that both adipocyte size and macrophage infiltration were reduced upon EPA supplementation," the authors conclude. "Future studies will determine the cell signaling and molecular mechanisms mediating these EPA effects."

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Health Concern

Catabolic wasting: Cachexia and sarcopenia

Sarcopenia (from the Greek meaning "poverty of flesh") generally refers to age-related loss of muscle mass and function (Iannuzzi-Sucich 2002). Approximately 50% of people over age 80 experience sarcopenia (Baumgartner 1998; Janssen 2004).

Sarcopenia can also occur as a result of physical inactivity, poor nutrition, or illness. Some researchers refer to age-related muscle loss not associated with an underlying cause as "primary sarcopenia," and that which occurs as a consequence of one or more other causes as "secondary sarcopenia" (Rolland 2011; Muscaritoli 2013). Also, sarcopenia can sometimes occur in a person who still has significant fat stores, a condition known as "sarcopenic obesity" (Zamboni 2008). Sarcopenia is associated with increased risk of insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes in non-obese adults over age 60 years (Moon 2013).

Consumption of sufficient amounts of omega-3 fatty acids is helpful in preventing and treating catabolic wasting. Omega-3 fatty acids are found in high concentrations in certain fatty fish/fish oil and flaxseed/flax oil. A study of 16 healthy older adults reported that 4 g daily of an omega-3 supplement (containing 1.86 g EPA and 1.5 g DHA) for 8 weeks was associated with significantly greater protein synthesis rates compared to controls given 4 g of corn oil daily (Smith 2011). A British study of 2983 older adults reported that consuming higher levels of fatty fish was associated with greater handgrip strength (Robinson 2008). In a study of 18 cachectic pancreatic cancer patients receiving approximately 12 g fish oil (containing 18% EPA and 12% DHA) daily, authors reported an average weight gain of 0.7 pounds/month. Prior to supplementation, patients were severely cachectic and lost an average of 6.4 pounds per month (Wigmore 1996).

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