|Sarah McGowan-Freije, NatureCity author & contributor|
As we age, it becomes harder for our bodies to create and maintain strong muscles. A recent study suggests that increasing levels of polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) such as omega 3s may be associated with larger muscles and further knee extension in mature adults.
Participants in the study included 836 adults between the ages of 66 and 96. The researchers followed them for an average of 5.2 years. The researchers measured PUFA levels at the onset of the study.
After testing various measures of muscle size and strength, the researchers found that higher PUFA levels at the beginning of the study period were associated with both bigger muscles and further knee extension strength. When they looked at individual PUFAs, they discovered an association between higher levels of arachnidonic acid and smaller muscles, while higher levels of alpha-linolenic acids (ALA) were associated with greater knee extension strength.
Additionally, higher levels of alpha-linolenic acid were associated with lower levels of intermuscular fat tissue. Higher levels of EPA, however, were associated with higher levels of intermuscular fat tissue. Previous studies have shown an association between high levels of intermuscular fat tissue and lower muscle strength.
Researchers from the US National Institute on Aging, the VU University Medical Center in the Netherlands, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, the Icelandic Heart Association Research Institute, and the University of Iceland conducted the study. It was published online ahead of print on October 29, 2014, in The Journal of Nutrition.
Omega-3s are a great source of PUFAs. They have been linked to a number of health benefits, including alleviating arthritis pain, improved mood, improved joint mobility, helping with age related macular degeneration, and aiding your immune system.
Because omega-3 fatty-acids are not found naturally in the human body, it is especially important to make sure that they are a part of your daily diet. Oily, dark fish such as tuna and salmon are high in omega-3s.
Alpha-lipoic acid is an antioxidant that previous studies have linked with improvements in symptoms of diabetes. It can be found in yeast, liver, kidney, spinach, broccoli, and potatoes.