Published in Health and Wellness
Impact of non-protein nutrients underestimated in muscle regulation

Canadian researchers identify non‐protein nutrients such as omega-3 fatty acid supplementation as capable of modulating the muscle protein synthesis (MPS) response upon ingestion.

“Omega-3 fatty acids represent a promising area of research for the development of nutritional strategies to counteract anabolic resistance in older adults,” the review commented. “The next logical step would be to investigate whether ingestion of fatty acids such as omega-3s can offset skeletal muscle atrophy during periods of bed rest/muscle disuse in ageing persons.” 

The research, published on Journal of Physiology, would have an important clinical impact, particularly amongst older adults and associated periods of muscle disuse during an extended hospital stay,  and it also has much significance in the focus of obtaining a range of nutrients in food rather than focusing on protein/amino acids alone, which may affect daily protein requirements, particularly in older individuals.

The review reserved much of their focus on omega-3’s effect on MPS. The team mention a study that saw eight weeks of fish oil-derived omega-3 fatty acid supplementation increase the EPA and DHA content in skeletal muscle phospholipids and enhanced MPS in both older and younger adults.

Besides omega-3 supplementation, the review also makes a case for the provision of oleate, the vitamins A, D and E, and the minerals selenium and zinc, which in animal models, have shown direct influence in the muscle anabolic response. To a lesser extent, the review also mentions bioactive compounds such as growth factors, peptides and miRNAs in coordinated changes in MPS and muscle protein breakdown (MPB).

Age-associated loss of muscle loss and the loss of muscle caused by the numerous age-associated comorbidities are issues increasingly ageing populations have to address. The process of ageing (sarcopenia) it seems to reduce the size of muscles by around 0.5 and 2% a year. And the result is a reduction in quality of life and loss of independence in many elderly people.

Sarcopenia affects 10–30% of independently living older adults without major illness, and is even more prevalent in those with chronic diseases and/or institutionalised older adults.

The negative health effects associated with sarcopenia have become such a worldwide health concern that it has recently been recognised as an independent condition having its own International Classification of Disease.

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