There are so many conflicting studies on fish oil capsules. Are they good for you? Are there actually no benefits to taking it? Frankly, it can be difficult to sort through all of the research to get the right answer. We’ve tried to break it down for you.
The American Heart Association revealed recently that fish oil may help prevent death in someone who has had a heart attack, but will they benefit others? The association said that claims of overall heart health from the supplements have been shown to be very limited. Only two of more than 24 studies since 2005 have shown any difference between the effects of fish oil and placebos on the heart.
When it comes to using fish oil to build lean muscle mass, a very recent study from researchers at the University of Glasgow suggests that there can be some benefit for older adults battling sarcopenia when they combined fish oil with their regular strength training. The study found that older women who took the supplements in combination with an exercise regime showed improved muscle strength. Additionally, medical research showed that even sedentary older women using omega-3 fatty acids derived from fish oil shows some increases muscle strength.
But these new findings are at odds with other studies, including one from University of Stirling, that found that popping a capsule to grow you muscles faster simply doesn’t work. Medical researchers studied 20 weightlifters who were given fish oil and protein powder, along with a hearty breakfast, every day for eight weeks. Each morning, after their meal, they then did a series of leg-focused strength training exercises.
“We found that when it comes to building lean muscle mass and repairing damaged proteins, these capsules do not seem to make much of a difference for healthy men already undertaking resistance training,” said Professor Kevin Tipton, one of the researchers, in a report put out by the university. “There was no significant difference in the rate at which muscle adds new protein after exercise between participants who took the control capsule of coconut oil and those who ingested the fish oil supplements.”
Whether fish oil can actually help build strength is yet to be proven conclusively. What isn’t in question is exercise’s role in fighting sarcopenia: There is no substitute for a good strength training workout. While many older people are fearful of starting a high-intensity training program, the research shows that such a program can increase muscle strength by 49 percent in just six weeks. That increased strength can improve balance and coordination, and endurance, all important benefits for seniors battling the effects of sarcopenia.