OMEGA-3 SUPPLEMENTATION & PRESERVATION OF MUSCLE MASS DURING PERIODS OF DISUSE

A Randomized, Double-Blind Control Study


Omega-3 fatty acids are essential fats, meaning our bodies can't make them from scratch and must get them in through our diet.


These long chain fatty acids are an integral part of cell membranes.


Omega-3 fats play an important role in immune health, cognition, & neuromuscular function.

Studies have demonstrated these fats may have a positive influence on skeletal muscle:

  • Enhanced muscle protein synthesis

  • Increased strength during weight training (more pronounced in women)

This study aimed to demonstrate that supplementation of Omega-3 fats during a period of muscle disuse or immobilization, could help reduce losses in muscle size & strength, as well as to promote recovery of muscle size after returning to activity.

The Article:

Randomized, Double-Blind Control Study:

  • 20 healthy, recreationally active women

  • BMI 23 +/- 2.3 kg/m2

  • 22 +/- 3 years old

  • 2 week period of lower limb immobilization

  • 2 week recovery period

Experiment Group:

5 grams/day of Omega-3 supplement beginning 4 weeks prior to immobilization period


Testing:

Diet was controlled during the study, with participants receiving 1.0 g/kg bodyweight protein daily.


Muscle size, mass, and strength were assessed pre/post immobilization and after recovery.

Results:

Skeletal muscle volume & mass was reduced during the disuse period in both the experiment & control group, however more significantly in the control group.


Muscle volume & mass was fully recovered in the experiment group only (after the 2 week recovery period).


The experiment group also had a decreased rate of decline in Muscle Protein Synthesis.

Applications:

Omega-3 supplementation may be a viable strategy for reducing muscle atrophy (loss) and promoting muscle recovery following periods of muscle disuse, such as post-surgery/injury.


Omega-3 Food Sources:

While omega-3 fatty acids in the form of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) can be found in plant foods like flaxseed, walnuts, and vegetable oils, our body doesn't do a good job of synthesizing DHA & EPA.


Best food sources of DHA & EPA:

  • Mackerel

  • Salmon

  • Cod liver oil

  • Herring

  • Oysters

  • Sardines

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