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It happens to all of us at some point…
We throw out our back. Or need surgery. Or break a leg. Or come down with Epstein Barr virus. Or pneumonia. Or have an autoimmune disease flare-up. And we’re couch-bound for weeks… or months.
Even a trip from the living room to the bathroom seems ambitious because we’re so weak or in so much pain.
These are times to be gentle with ourselves. We need to rest, not push or overexert, so our bodies can replenish and we can return to our whole and healthy state.
But while we’re resting and recovering, one of our most important body parts might take a bit of a hit — our muscles.
When we stay sedentary for an extended period, we lose muscle mass quickly. In fact, a 2015 study found that young people who are immobilized for even a relatively short period of time (like two weeks) lose about 30 percent of their muscle strength, making them as strong as someone several decades older.
The thing is, maintaining healthy muscles is important to our overall health. It reduces our risk of disease and keeps our metabolism on track. Not to mention it helps us function in our day to day lives… ever try to carry groceries or walk up stairs with weak, diminished muscles? It’s not easy.
So, the question is, how do you preserve your muscles when the rest of your body needs a breather?
Luckily, there’s a supplement that can help you do exactly that.
Omega-3 protects your muscles when you’re immobilized
A new study from researchers at McMaster University found that taking an omega-3 fatty acid supplement can help you maintain muscle mass when you’re immobilized.
The study included 20 healthy young women. Half of the women received a fish oil supplement for four weeks and the other half received sunflower oil. The women then had their legs immobilized for two weeks with a knee brace.
After two weeks of limited movement, they resumed their normal activity for a two-week recovery period. Researchers tested leg muscle size, mass, strength, and protein synthesis before the women were immobilized after the women were immobilized and after the two-week recovery period. Here’s what they found…
Women who took omega-3 supplements lost far less muscle mass than women who didn’t. They also restored their full muscle volume during their two-week recovery period, while that wasn’t the case for women who weren’t taking omega-3s.
How much omega-3s do your muscles need?
So, if you want to save your muscles when you’re stuck being sedentary, you know what to do…
Take your omega-3s.
The best source of omega-3s is a fish oil supplement. But if you’re vegetarian, algae-based omega-3 supplements will do the trick too.
Women in this study took 5 grams of omega-3 fatty acids per day. That’s quite a bit higher than most U.S. health officials recommend. The FDA, for example, says it’s only safe to take up to 3 grams of omega-3 fatty acids per day. But Europe’s version of the FDA, the European Food Safety Authority, says 5 grams per day is safe.
Since there are conflicting opinions on dosage, you’ll have to decide what dose is best for you. Partner with a trusted health professional who can help you determine how much omega-3s you need daily to stay healthy and strong.
Editor’s Note: If you’re serious about stopping premature aging, avoiding age-related disease and living with a strong body and mind well into your 90s and beyond, don’t forget about your body’s master hormone. Many experts believe it’s the reason people, like Greek grandpa Stamatis Moraitis, residing in blue zones across the globe are living it up! Click to read his story…
- Fish oil supplementation can slow muscle loss during immobilization — MedicalXpress
- Omega-3 fatty acid supplementation attenuates skeletal muscle disuse atrophy during two weeks of unilateral leg immobilization in healthy young women — The FASEB Journal
- Muscle Strength Fades After Just Two Weeks of Inactivity — HealthDay
- Omega-3 Fatty Acids — National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements
- How Much Omega-3 Should You Take Per Day? — Healthline