Omega-3s slow muscle-loss after injury

After an injury, when a cast or brace immobilizes part of the body, muscles can shrink, or atrophy.

In this study, 20 healthy, recreationally active women, aged 19 to 31, took a placebo or 2,970 mg of EPA plus 2,030 mg of DHA per day. To simulate an injury, doctors applied a knee brace to immobilize one leg. The women ate only food supplied by the study, measured to provide 0.45 grams of protein per pound of body weight.

After two weeks, doctors removed the casts, returning the women to normal activities for a two-week recovery period. While both groups had lost muscle mass during immobilization, those taking the omega-3 fish oil lost significantly less compared to placebo.

After returning to regular activity, only the omega-3 group regained full skeletal muscle volume. Doctors concluded omega-3s may offset muscle atrophy and promote recovery after disuse, such as in elective surgery or injury.

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