The importance of healthy muscles
Maintaining the health of our muscles is essential to ageing well. As we get older we can start to see a decline in muscle. Initial loss of muscle starts at around the age of 30 and there seems to be a loss of 1-2% per year after the age of 50.
Maintaining muscle health as we get older is important for a number of reasons. A decline in muscle health can lead to a decline in physical function, increased disability, frailty, and loss of independence. Muscle health also plays a much broader role in health and wellbeing and maintaining muscle mass and strength also assists:
- Maintenance of healthy bones
- Maintenance of a healthy weight
- Healthy blood glucose metabolism
Fish Oil and muscle strength
As we know, fish oil is a rich source of omega-3 essential fatty acids. We also know that strength training improves muscle strength. With these factors in mind, researchers set out to investigate whether supplementing with fish oil would enhance the benefits of strength training in elderly women, improve neuromuscular system health, increase muscle strength and function, and whether additional supplementation before training began provided even better effects.
The study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition involved 45 women aged 64 years who were randomly placed in one of three groups. The first group performed strength training only for 90 days; the second and third groups also performed the same strength training with the second group taking 2 g fish oil per day for the 90 days and the third also taking fish oil for 60 days before the training.
What they found was that all three groups experienced an increase in muscle strength as a result of strength training. They also found that the two groups that supplemented with fish oil whilst also doing the strength training had greater improvements in muscle strength and function. There was however no additional benefit from supplementing with fish oil during a pre-training period as was done with the third group.
Other key nutrients for healthy muscle
Whey protein- may help to increase muscle mass and muscle strength. You can read more about the role of whey protein and muscle health here.
Vitamin D also helps to helps to maintain muscle strength. A deficiency of vitamin D is linked to muscle weakness and muscle pain.
Reference available upon request