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More Benefits Found for Omega-3 Fish Oils

By Elaine Moore on 1/31/2012

The primary reason that people with autoimmune disorders use fish oils is to enhance immune function and reduce inflammation. According to many researchers, chronic inflammation is a direct cause of persistent autoimmune disorders. Two recent studies show that omega-3 oils have other health benefits.

Researchers at Washington University in St. Louis conducted a placebo-controlled study to see if omega-3 oils could increase muscle mass. In elderly patients and patients with chronic illnesses, muscle loss and increased body fat is a common problem. Lowering body fat and increasing muscle helps reduce the risk of associated disorders such as diabetes and heart disease.

Subjects used 4 grams of fish oil daily (1,600 mg EPA and 800 mg DHA) for 8 weeks. At the end of the study, subjects had an increase in muscle mass due to increased protein synthesis.

In a similar study conducted by researchers at Gettysburg College in Pensnsylvania, subjects were also given either 4 grams of fish oil or a placebo. The duration was 6 weeks. At the end of the study subjects had a notable increase in lean muscle, and body fat declined by about 1 pound (about 0.4%). No change was seen in subjects taking the placebo.

The researchers cited other research showing that EPA and DHA can reduce the activity of fat-promoting genes and increase the burning of body fat. In addition, fish oils decrease cortisol levels. The stress hormone cortisol is known to contribute to heart disease. Lowering the body mass index (BMI) is also known to reduce the risk of diabetes.


Smith G, Atherton P, Reeds DN, et al. Dietary omega-3 fatty acid supplementation increases the rate of muscle protein synthesis in older adultsL a randomized controlled study, American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2010.

Noreen E, Sass , Crowe M, et al. Effects of supplemental fish oil on resting metabolic rate, body composition, and salivary cortisol in healthy adults. Journal of the International Society of Sports Medicine, 2010.

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