TAG | Fish Oil Supplementation
A recent study published in the journal Brain, Behavior, and Immunity found that four months of omega-3 fish oil supplementation—either 2.5 grams or 1.25 grams daily of omega-3s from fish oil—was found to help preserve telomeres in white blood cells of the immune system. Telomeres are tiny segments of DNA that shorten over time as a result of aging. The shorter the telomere, the more you age.
In the study, those people who improved their ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids were most likely to also experience a lengthening of their telomeres as well as an average 15 percent reduction in oxidative stress. “The telomere finding is provocative in that it suggests the possibility that a nutritional supplement might actually make a difference in aging,” stated Jan Kiecolt-Glaser, professor of psychiatry and psychology at Ohio State and lead author of the study.
A previous article about this same study investigated the effects of the omega-3 supplementation on markers of inflammation, and found that omega-3 supplementation reduced inflammation. “Inflammation in particular is at the heart of so many health problems. Anything that reduces inflammation has a lot of potentially good spinoffs among older adults,” explained Glaser, “This finding strongly suggests that inflammation is what’s driving the changes in telomeres.”
Participants in both the high and low-dose groups experienced similar results, with the resulting improvement in omega-6 to omega-3 ratio the deciding factor of benefit. The Standard American Diet (SAD) contains an average omega-6 to omega-3 ratio of 10:1 to 25:1 (much more omega-6 than omega-3) whereas experts recommend consumption of 1:1 to 2:1 (almost equal amounts of omega-6 and omega-3) for maximum benefit.
If you want to know your omega-3 ratio, you can get it checked. The Omega-3 Index measures the level of omega-3, omega-6, and other fatty acids in your red blood cell membranes, and only requires a finger prick that you can do at home. Increasing your intake of omega-3 fats with fish oil supplements is a great way to optimize your Omega-3 Index.
When omega-3 fish oil comes to mind, heart health is usually the first benefit attributed to it. Brain health and joint health are a close second and third. Did you know that omega-3s may also be helpful for your muscles?
According to a recent study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, regular fish oil consumption, in conjunction with strength training, improved muscle force and function in elderly women. The study involved 45 women about 64-years-old, all assigned to a strength training program. Fifteen women received a standard fish oil supplement containing 400 milligrams EPA and 300 milligrams DHA during the 90 days of strength training, and 15 women received the fish oil for 60 days before strength training as well as throughout the strength training. Fifteen of the women strength trained but did not take fish oil supplements.
All women experienced improvements in muscle force and function, but the women taking omega-3 fish oil saw even greater effects than the women not taking it. The results of this study may be particularly important for aging women. Not only does strength training help build bone, but muscular strength is also important for stability as we age. The researchers stated, “The use of fish oil supplementation in addition to strength training potentiates the neuromuscular system, enhancing the muscle strength and the functional capacity in elderly women. Thus, fish oil may be an attractive supplement for the elderly to maximize their neuromuscular responses to strength training, which is important to life quality.”
If you are not taking fish oil already for its array of health benefits, consider it. Improved muscle function is one small benefit in addition to many others you may gain from this amazing nutrient.