are rich in a type of fat called omega-3 fatty acids; the main two are called EPA and DHA. There is no better example of bioactive nutrients that have such diverse health-promoting effects. Omega 3 fats are a normal constituent of every cell membrane along with other fatty acids called omega 6 fats.
We tend to consume too much omega 6 relative to omega 3 fat and this can throw off the fatty acid balance of membranes with broad spectrum implications on health and performance. Whereas the benefits of fish oil supplementation on lipid levels, inflammation, and risk for disease are well established, there remains little research on how these fats effect muscle anabolism. Researchers from the United States and United kingdom collaborated on a project that examined the effects of fish oil supplementation on muscle protein synthesis and anabolic signaling in older men and women. Subjects were randomized into either a fish oil (4 g/day) or control group that received corn oil. Supplements were taken for 8 weeks. Before and after the supplementation period, rates of muscle protein synthesis were tested in response to infusion of amino acids and insulin. After 8 weeks of supplementation the fish oil group showed a marked increase in the omega 3 fatty acids in muscle samples whereas there was no change in the corn oil group. The fish oil group also showed a two-fold greater increase in muscle protein synthesis in response to the amino acid infusion. Fish oil supplementation also resulted in greater expression of anabolic signaling protein in muscle such as mTOR. This is the first study to show a link between fish oil supplementation and anabolic signaling in muscle. These results show that increasing the muscle phospholipid content of omega 3 fatty acids by supplementing with fish oil in older subjects results in improved protein synthetic response to amino acids.
Smith GI, Atherton P, Reeds DN, Mohammed BS, Rankin D, Rennie MJ, Mittendorfer B. Dietary omega-3 fatty acid supplementation increases the rate of muscle protein synthesis in older adults: a randomized controlled trial. Am J Clin Nutr. 2011 Feb;93(2):402-12.