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Fish oil helps over 65s' muscles respond better to strength training

Over the age of forty your body finds it more and more difficult as the years progress to build and maintain muscle mass. Because of this people who reach very old age may suffer from age-related muscle weakness, and as a result old people react less well to strength training compared to young people. Researchers at the Mayo Clinic in the US have discovered that fish-oil supplementation helps boost the anabolic processes in muscle cells a little.

The researchers did an experiment on two groups of healthy but untrained participants. One group consisted of people aged 18-35 [Young]; the other of people aged 65-85 [Old].

The researchers got the participants to train their legs on a leg extension machine. Before and after the workout the researchers took a sample of tissue from the participants' leg muscles and measured the amount of muscle protein the cells built up.

The elderly people repeated the procedure after they had taken 3.9 g DHA and EPA daily for 16 weeks. The researchers used capsules manufactured by Sancilio. [] Each capsule contained 300 mg DHA, 675 mg EPA and another 75 mg of other n-3 fatty acids. The subjects took two capsules twice a day with a meal.

Supplementation with fish oil boosted the synthesis of muscle protein in the over 65s.

Fish oil helps over 65s' muscles respond better to strength training

Fish oil helps over 65s' muscles respond better to strength training

How fish oil enhances the synthesis of muscle tissue in the over 65s the researchers did not manage to find out. They did discover that the mitochondria in the over 65s' muscle cells released fewer oxidants as a result of fish-oil supplementation.

Fish oil helps over 65s' muscles respond better to strength training

Oxidants are aggressive substances that damage cells. The researchers suspect that the oxidants sabotage anabolic processes in muscle cells. It may be that the cells of young people are better at neutralising oxidants than the cells of older people are.

"In conclusion, we demonstrate that dietary omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids induce potentially favorable adaptations within skeletal muscle in older adults, including decreased mitochondrial reactive oxygen species production, increased muscle protein synthesis rates, and enhanced anabolic response to a single bout of exercise," the researchers concluded.

"Future studies are needed to determine if these adaptations translate into meaningful improvements in metabolic and physical function in older adults when omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids are given over longer periods of time or in combination with an exercise training program."

Not for the young
Supplementation with high doses of fish oil probably doesn't stimulate the synthesis of muscle tissue in young people, according to a report published by Canadian sports scientists in 2016. [Physiol Rep. 2016 Mar;4(6).] They gave males in their twenties, who did frequent weight training, 5 g fish oil daily for eight weeks and observed no effect on protein synthesis.

Perhaps people in their twenties are not yet affected by excess oxidant emissions by the mitochondria?

Aging (Albany NY). 2017 Apr 5. doi: 10.18632/aging.101210. [Epub ahead of print].

Fish oil supplementation makes over 60s more muscled and stronger 23.07.2015
Fish oil boosts muscle growth in elderly 11.01.2011
Six weeks of fish oil: lose a pound of fat and gain a pound of lean body mass 12.11.2010

Nutrition & Strength Training
Unusual Anabolic Strategies
Anti-Aging & Muscles
Fish Oil

Medical study: protein builds more muscle mass with fish oil
The dose in this study is pretty high. Maybe too high.

One capsule of fish oil daily lowers cortisol levels
The participants in tis study were alcohol addicts who were doing a detox, but the cortisol lowering effect of fish oil is no different in healthy people.

Omega-3 fatty acids more effective when taken with lecithin
Lecithin improves the uptake of omega-3 fatty acids.