Want to boost muscle strength? Get hooked on fish oil!

Written by Ravinder Lilly - Nutritionist and Health Writer

Omega-3 fats are essential fats needed for a whole host of body functions from brain and heart health to healthy skin. Now, new research suggests that getting enough omega-3s may even help retain muscle strength.

A recent study assessed the effects of fish oil with three-times-a-week gym exercises or gym work alone on muscle building. Results showed that fish oil plus exercise boosted muscle strength by a significant 20 per cent.

The control group (exercise alone) built just over half the muscle power of the fish oil group – 11 per cent. Over the 12-week study, tests showed that the fish oil consumers were able to walk faster and showed improvement in balance tests.

The researchers from Scotland’s Aberdeen University put the difference down to two particular omega-3 fats in fish oil called docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). These two fats are predominantly found in oily fish like salmon and fish oils; they are potent anti-inflammatories.

It’s normal for muscle size to reduce with age. And the ability to build muscle through exercise alone starts to decline as early as our mid-thirties.

The scientists believe that the muscle-building effects of fish oils are down to the potent anti-inflammatory effects of DHA and EPA which help to reduce low grade inflammation which interferes with the body’s ability to build muscle mass through exercise.

Lead researcher Dr Stuart Gray said,‘We’re trying to make older muscle adapt like younger muscle, and that’s where we think fish oil can come in.’

Studies suggest that a staggering nine out of ten adults currently don’t get enough omega-3 fatty acids.

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