Fish oil-derived n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids for the prevention and treatment of sarcopenia

Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care. 2018 Mar;21(2):104-109. doi: 10.1097/MCO.0000000000000441.


Purpose of review: Muscle mass and function decline progressively starting in middle age, which can result in sarcopenia and affect people's mobility and independence later in life. Exercise training and increased protein intake are typically recommended to counteract the age-associated decline in muscle mass and function. However, few people comply with exercise recommendations and the effectiveness of high-protein intake to halt the decline in muscle mass and function has not been proven. This review aims to explore recent developments in the potential for fish-oil derived n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (n-3 PUFA) to improve muscle mass and function in older people.

Recent findings: The results from several recent studies demonstrate that dietary supplementation with fish oil-derived n-3 PUFA stimulates muscle protein synthesis and improves muscle mass and function in sedentary older adults and augments the resistance exercise training-induced increase in muscle strength in older adults. The exact mechanisms by which fish oil-derived n-3 PUFAs exert their beneficial effects on muscle mass and function remain to be elucidated.

Summary: Fish-oil supplementation has antisarcopenic effects and should be considered in the clinical care of older adults.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Dietary Supplements
  • Exercise
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3 / therapeutic use*
  • Fish Oils / pharmacology*
  • Humans
  • Muscle Strength
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiology
  • Resistance Training
  • Risk Factors
  • Sarcopenia / prevention & control*
  • Sarcopenia / therapy*


  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3
  • Fish Oils