Who would have thought that omega-3 fatty acids, well known for their cardiovascular, brain health and anti-inflammatory benefits, could also help us retain muscle mass thereby enabling weight management?
Around the age of 30, you begin to lose muscle mass and function, a condition known as age-related sarcopenia. In fact, people who are physically inactive can lose as much as 3% to 5% of their muscle mass per decade after age 30 and even if you are active, research suggest you too will experience some muscle loss. Loss of muscle can also make it more difficult to lose weight because when you lose muscle mass, you also slow down your metabolism. So why do we lose muscle as we age? Well, a major cause of age-related muscle loss is thought to be due to the inability of our aging muscle to adequately boost the rate of muscle building in response to a diet rich in protein and amino acids.
New research published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition suggests that omega-3 fatty acids from fish oil may help. In this study, healthy older adults were randomly assigned to receive either a dose of fish oil containing 1.9 g of EPA and 1.5 g of DHA or an equal amount of corn oil daily for eight weeks. Key measures of muscle protein synthesis were evaluated before and after supplementation and with and without an infusion of amino acids. What researchers found was that corn oil had no effect on muscle protein synthesis rates but that fish oil supplementation did with an infusion of amino acids. In fact, it more than doubled the response, suggesting a stimulatory effect on muscle tissue building. Although the exact mechanisms are unclear, this study provides some compelling evidence that omega-3 fatty acids play a role in muscle metabolism and that supplementation may not only help combat the loss of muscle mass that occurs as we age, but may help with weight loss by preserving your lean muscle mass. Stay tuned for more research!
Source: GNLD Lifestyle Magazine (West Africa, 03/14)