10 September 2012
Fish oils help slow age decline
A new study has shown that moderate exercise and a regular intake of fish oils should help maintain mobility in the elderly.
The trial showed that women over the age of 65 who had a regular intake of omega-3 fatty
acids gained almost twice as much muscle strength after exercise than those only taking olive oil.
In order to confirm these results and further investigate why muscle condition improves, a larger trial will be conducted Previous studies have shown that oils from fish, such as mackerel and sardines, have potential health benefits, including a lower risk of coronary heart disease.
In a healthy adult muscle size is usually reduced by 0.5-2% each year, known as sarcopenia. This can result in immobility and frailty in the older generation. Little is known about this process in the UK but data from America shows that 25% of people ages 50 to 70 have the condition and this number increases to more than 50% over the age of 80.
The rate at which muscle size reduces can be determined by lifestyle and tests on animals showed that Omega-3 fatty acids had a positive effect on muscle size. This gave scientists the idea to test the effects on the elderly.
14 women over the age of 65 started a 12 week exercise programme consisting of two 30-minute sessions of leg exercises. Half the women were given omega-3 fatty acids while the other half were given an olive oil placebo. The participant’s leg muscles were measured both before and after the trial. The results showed that those taking the omega-3 increased muscle mass by 20 compared to 11% in the placebo group.
Dr Gray, one of the scientists involved in the study, pointed out that not all fish oils contain the beneficial EPA. He said, “One of the problems with a lot of these supplements is that the amount of EPA varies. A capsule containing one gram of fish oil might only contain 100 milligrams (mg) of EPA and some might contain 400”.
Fundinghas been made available to undertake further studies which can use larger numbers to find some more concrete results.