Science Corner: Omega-3s Shown to Positively Effect Muscle Protein Metabolism

A recent study out of Washington University and the University of Nottingham suggests that omega-3 fatty acids from fish oil can positively impact muscle protein metabolism, which might also have application to people who exercise and athletes.

Omega-3 fatty acids, primarily EPA and DHA, have anti-inflammatory properties, which can be important to general health and well as athletes. Meanwhile, a recent study out of Washington University and the University of Nottingham suggests that omega-3 fatty acids from fish oil can positively impact muscle protein metabolism, which might also have application to people who exercise and athletes. In this study, healthy men and women supplemented 4 grams of fish oil (1.86 g EPA and 1.5 g DHA) and muscle biopsies were taken before starting and then after 8 weeks of supplementation. The researchers assessed protein turnover in a fasted state as well as in response to a controlled infusion of amino acids and insulin to simulate feeding. One of the main findings of this study was that supplementation of fish oil at the levels studied significantly increased muscle protein anabolic response to amino acids and insulin. This suggests a potential benefit of fish oil supplementation by people interested in building or maintaining muscle mass such as during aging, weight loss or for certain strength and power athletes.

Smith GI et al. Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids augment the muscle protein anabolic response to hyperinsulinemia-hyperaminoacidemia in healthy young and middle-aged men and women. Clin Sci 2011; 121: 267-278.

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