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11.01.2011


Fish oil boosts muscle growth in elderly

Give elderly people 4 g of a pharmaceutical fish oil preparation every day for 8 weeks and their muscle tissue grows faster, if their blood contains high levels of glucose and amino acids. Researchers at Washington University write about this in a study that will appear soon in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Study
The researchers gave 8 healthy subjects over the age of 65 Lovaza, a GlaxoSmithKline product. Lovaza contains the fish fatty acids EPA and DHA, not in the form you find them in fatty fish or in the conventional fish oil capsules, but as an ethyl-ester. Below is the structural formula of the ethyl-ester of EPA.


Fish oil boosts muscle growth in elderly


The elderly subjects were given a daily dose of Lovaza that was equivalent to 1.86 g EPA and 1.5 g DHA.

A similar-sized group of over 65 year olds was given a placebo containing corn oil.

Before and after the supplementation, the researchers measured the synthesis of muscle protein in the subjects' muscle fibre [the muscle protein fractional synthesis rate, FSR]. On one occasion they measured the FSR in muscle cells that had been taken while the subjects had an empty stomach [basal]; on another occasion the researchers did the same, but when the subjects' blood had high levels of glucose and amino acid [clamp].


Fish oil boosts muscle growth in elderly


Fish oil boosts muscle growth in elderly


Fish oil boosts muscle growth in elderly


Results
The fish fatty acids had no anti-inflammatory effects. This was because the elderly subjects were a picture of health, and the researchers could find no signs of inflammatory processes worth mentioning.

Fish fatty acid supplementation boosted the activity of the anabolic signalling molecules mTOR and p70s6k in the muscle cells. So the fish fatty acids made the elderly people's anabolic machinery work harder.

Conclusion
"Dietary omega-3 fatty acid supplementation could potentially provide a safe, simple, and low-cost intervention to combat sarcopenia", the researchers conclude.

Source:
Am J Clin Nutr. 2011 Feb;93(2):402-12.

More:
Six weeks of fish oil: lose a pound of fat and gain a pound of lean body mass 12.11.2010
Why it's okay to take fish oil capsules at the same time as a protein shake 04.11.2010
Medical study: protein builds more muscle mass with fish oil 10.05.2010