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How To Improve Muscle Strength In Later Life

Amazing news. A moderate exercise routine along with regular intake of oily fish fatty acids holds immobility at bay in elderly subjects according to a recent trial presented at the British Science Festival in Aberdeen.

Subjects over 65 who got omega-3 fatty acids gained nearly two times as much muscle strength after exercise than those who take olive oil. More work, larger this time, is planned to confirm the findings and understand more about just why muscle condition gets better.

As part of healthy aging, muscle size goes down by 0.5 to 2% each year. Known as sarcopenia, this natural loss can bring both frailty and lack of mobility as you age. Data for the United States suggests 25% of those ages 50 to 70 have sarcopenia, as many as half of people at 80 years old have the condition. Beyond the loss of independence and mobility of the patient, the need for and cost of constant care, there’s the cost of hospital admissions due to falls. Almost 1.5% of the U.S. health care budget is given to sarcopenia related medical costs.

Earlier work has shown that livestock fed omega 3 rich diets had more muscle. This was the finding that prompted the University of Aberdeen’s Dr. Stuart Gray to see if these fatty acids could help turn back the clock on sarcopenia in older people. In the first round of research, Gray demonstrated by MRI images that middle aged rats fed fish oil supplements lost less lean muscle mass than those fed a normal diet. The fish oil seemed to have anabolic and muscle building effects in the subject rats. Of course since rats aren’t people, this finding only meant so much.

The brought Gray and his team to recruit 14 females over 65 and ask them to undergo a 12 week exercise program that involved two 30 minute workouts using standard leg muscle exercises. Half the subjects were given omega-3 fatty acids known as EPA and DHA, the other half got an olive oil placebo. Leg muscle strength of the subjects was tested at the start and end of the study.

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How To Improve Muscle Strength In Later Life Continued…

The women who got olive oil upped their muscle mass by 11% while those taking EPA and DHA showed a 20% increase. That’s a statistically significant number.

But you must keep in mind that not all fish oil supplements have the right amounts of these fatty acids. The amount of EPA varies from product to product. Your best bet is to find the supplements that have the highest amounts of dietary EPA and DHA – or choose food sources such as a half serving of oily fish. When getting omega-3 from fish, the way it’s prepared has an impact – broiled or baked is best, fried cancels out the benefits of the fish oil.

Experts also know that men and women are different in how they synthesis protein and how they respond to exercise. Older women have similar protein synthesis levels as younger ones, but older men have lower levels of protein synthesis than younger men. Older men increase their protein synthesis in response to exercise, while women don’t do this to any extent, though their levels are higher naturally.

Can you change the rate of your own muscle loss? Yes, by making some simple lifestyle changes – being more active and eating a diet with more natural sources of proteins.

To your good health,