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Omega-3 Promotes Muscle Production

Posted March 30, 2011 in Uncategorized

There is new research that links Omega-3 fatty acids to muscle production.  As we age, our muscle mass slowly decreases, often causing Sarcopenia. This condition strongly influences muscle strength and mobility and is a factor in the occurrence of frailty and likelihood of falls and fractures in the elderly.   Studies show that omega-3 fatty acids stimulate protein anabolism in animals, and therefore aid in 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.  In conclusion, 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.”

What are Omega Fatty Acids?   Like vitamins and minerals, there are two types of fats that our bodies are unable to produce and therefore must be eaten or supplemented. These “essential” fats are known as omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. Omega-6 fatty acids can be found in nuts,  poultry, avocado, and in an array of oils making it easy to consume daily.  Omega-3 fatty acids, on the other hand, are much more difficult to find.  Flax seed oil and fish oil are the two richest sources, with Salmon rating the highest.

Omega-3 fats promote numerous health benefits to the body. Studies show consuming adequate omega-3 fats can enhance good cholesterol, keep blood thin to prevent clotting, decrease blood pressure, increase mood, enhance nerve function, improve healing, cushion joints, decrease inflammation, reduce cancer risk, and  even promote muscle production.

If you don’t like eating fish, or simply can’t get enough in your regular diet; other options include fish oil supplements, hemp oil, hemp seeds,  flaxseed, flaxseed oil, walnuts, canola oil, soybeans and soybean oil. However, similar to supplements, the evidence of heart-healthy benefits from eating these foods isn’t as strong as it is from eating fish.

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