Lipids and physical function in older adults

Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care. 2017 Jan;20(1):16-25. doi: 10.1097/MCO.0000000000000333.


Purpose of review: Healthy aging is a public health priority. The maintenance of adequate physical function is recognized as a key element of healthy aging. In recent years, scientific evidence has increased concerning the ability of lipids, in particular omega 3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (n-3 PUFAs), to positively influence muscle and overall physical function in older patients. The article will critically review observational as well as intervention studies on this topic, and it will elucidate the potential biological mechanisms underlying the beneficial effects of n-3 PUFA on physical function.

Recent findings: Observational studies and clinical trials performed in healthy older patients and in older patients with chronic diseases mostly found positive effects of n-3 PUFA on muscle metabolism, muscle strength and in general physical function.

Summary: Although the use of n-3 PUFA might represent an important intervention to preserve physical function in older adults, several key questions still need to be answered. Above all, large randomized controlled trials should be performed to confirm the utility of n-3 PUFA as therapeutic agents to prevent and treat physical function decline in old age.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aging / physiology*
  • Dietary Supplements*
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3 / therapeutic use*
  • Humans
  • Lipids / physiology*
  • Muscle, Skeletal / metabolism


  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3
  • Lipids