Effects of Omega-3 Supplementation Alone and Combined with Resistance Exercise on Skeletal Muscle in Older Adults: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

Nutrients. 2022 May 26;14(11):2221. doi: 10.3390/nu14112221.


Sarcopenia negatively affects skeletal muscle mass and function in older adults. Omega-3 (ω-3) fatty acid supplementation, with or without resistance exercise training (RET), is suggested to play a role as a therapeutic component to prevent or treat the negative effects of sarcopenia. A systematic review and meta-analysis were conducted on the impact of ω-3 fatty acid supplementation with or without RET on measures of muscle mass and function in older adults (≥55 y). The data sources included SPORTDiscus, PubMed, and Medline. All the study types involving ω-3 fatty acid supplementation on measures of muscle mass and function in older adults (without disease) were included. The mean differences (MDs) or standardized mean differences (SMDs) with 95% confidence intervals were calculated and pooled effects assessed. Sixteen studies (1660 females, 778 males) met our inclusion criteria and were included in the meta-analysis. ω-3 fatty acid supplementation did not impact lean tissue mass (SMD 0.09 [-0.10, 0.28]). Benefits were observed for lower body strength (SMD 0.54 [0.33, 0.75]), timed-up-and-go (MD 0.29 [0.23, 0.35]s), and 30-s sit-to-stand performance (MD 1.93 [1.59, 2.26] repetitions) but not walking performance (SMD -0.01 [-0.10, 0.07]) or upper body strength (SMD 0.05 [-0.04, 0.13]). Supplementing with ω-3 fatty acids may improve the lower-body strength and functionality in older adults.

Keywords: PUFA; anabolism; elderly; inflammation; sarcopenia; strength.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Dietary Supplements
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3* / pharmacology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Muscle Strength
  • Muscle, Skeletal
  • Resistance Training*
  • Sarcopenia* / prevention & control


  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3

Grants and funding

This research received no external funding.