Omega-3s improve muscle mass, increase walking speed
Study evidence is mounting that fatty acids, including omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids, are critical for regulating, building, and sustaining skeletal muscle mass, and for maintaining muscle function with age. This review of 10 placebo-controlled omega-3 fish oil trials of different lengths and dosages, covered 552 participants, aged at least 60.
Overall, in trials lasting longer than six months, for those taking more than 2,000 mg of omega-3 fish oil supplements per day, participants gained an average nearly three-quarters of a pound (0.73 lb.) of lean muscle mass. In another important measure, those in the omega-3 groups were able to increase walking speed by nearly six feet (5.8 ft.) per second compared to the start of the studies.
Niacin slows muscle disease
Muscles require lots of energy, and depend on mitochondria—the “energy factories” in every cell—to produce it. In an inherited, or genetic muscle-wasting condition called adult-onset mitochondrial myopathy (MM), mitochondria can fail when stores of a molecule that plays a role in producing energy—nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD)—decline.
In this study, doctors compared 15 people with MM and low levels of NAD to 15 similar, but healthy people. Doctors gave the MM group increasingly large doses of niacin, from 250 mg daily per month to 1,000 mg daily at 10 months.
NAD levels for the entire MM group rose to match healthy participants, muscle strength increased, and new mitochondria formations increased.