In a study from the University of Glasgow, scientists found that krill oil supplements could help improve muscle health in older people.
Krill oil is an extract prepared from a species of Antarctic krill. Processed krill oil is commonly sold as a dietary supplement.
Krill oil and oceanic fish oil are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, mainly eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).
Studies have shown that EPA and DHA are important for proper fetal development, including neuronal, retinal, and immune function.
EPA and DHA may affect many aspects of cardiovascular function including inflammation, peripheral artery disease, major coronary events, and anticoagulation.
Although there may be toxic residues present in Antarctic krill and fish, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has stated that krill oil and supplement products derived from it meet the standards for Generally Recognized as Safe status.
Because Krill oil is a good source of healthy fats, researchers have found that it may help fight inflammation, reduce arthritis and joint, protect heart health, and so on.
In the study, the team aimed to test the effect of krill oil supplementation, on muscle function and size in healthy older adults.
They tested 94 men and women, aged above 65 years, with a BMI less than 35kg/m2. These people participated in less than 1h per week of exercise.
The team assigned the participants to either control or krill oil supplements (4g/day) for 6 months.
At the beginning of the study, 6 weeks and 6 months, the team measured body muscle function and size in the two groups.
The team found that 6 months of supplementation with krill oil led to an increase in knee extensor maximal torque, grip strength, and vastus lateralis muscle thickness, compared to the control group.
The vastus lateralis muscle is located on the lateral side of the thigh. knee extensor maximal torque can define knee extension strength.
The researchers also found that in the krill group, the EPA level in the body increased by 214%, DHA increased by 36%, and the omega-3 index by 61%.
Based on the results, the team concluded that krill oil supplementation for 6 months can lead to strong increases in muscle function and size in healthy older people.
These findings also confirm that omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA are important nutrients for older people.
One limitation is that the supplementation period is only 6 months, so the health benefit is short-term.
Future work needs to examine if long-term krill oil supplantation can bring long-lasting benefits to older people.
The research is published in Clinical Nutrition and was conducted by Saleh Alkhedhairi et al.
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