New research shows that omega-3 fatty acids (cold water fish and fish oils are great sources) support muscle protein synthesis, or the creation of new muscle tissue in older adults. Changes were noted after 8 weeks of supplementation.
Older adults muscles breakdown more quickly than younger people; this is associated with a loss of strength and performance.
Researchers noted that the Omega-3 oils ‘turned on’ a specific anabolic (muscle building) pathway. Experimentally, this occurred when ingested with amino acids and insulin. To recreate this effect, one could take Omega-3 oils with a protein-rich meal. The body always secretes insulin when meals are eaten; consuming some carbohydrates with this meal will enhance insulin secretion. This would be a perfect post-workout meal, by the way!
Omega-3 oils are found most readily in fish oil. They can also be found in plant oils as well. EPA and DHA are common types of Omega-3 oil. Omega-3 fatty acids are beneficial for asthma, allergies, tendonitis and high cholesterol, to name a few.
Smith GI, Atherton P, Reeds DN, Mohammed BS, Rankin D, Rennie MJ, Mittendorfer B. Dietary omega-3 fatty acid supplementation increases the rate of muscle protein synthesis in older adults: a randomized controlled trial. Am J Clin Nutr. 2010 Dec 15.