Fish Oil Helps Stiff Arteries Relax
Long-chain omega-3 fatty acids may help stiff arteries behave more like younger blood vessels, according to a meta-analysis from Australia.
Researchers from the NICM Centre for Study of Natural Medicines and Neurocognition in Australia analyzed data from 10 randomized controlled trials that measured pulse wave velocity and arterial compliance—each being a measure of the stiffness of arteries. They found omega-3s improved both significantly.
“The findings of the present study reveal that supplementation with [omega-3] offers a scientifically supported means of reducing arterial stiffness,” the authors wrote. “Reduction in arterial stiffness by [omega-3] may account for some of its purported cardioprotective effects.”
Vascular aging is characterized by a progressive deterioration in blood vessel elasticity that leads to increased arterial stiffness and poor cardiovascular health. Long-chain omega-3s, found primarily in fatty fish such as eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), promote a healthy vascular system by controlling elevated blood lipid levels, reducing blood pressure, and providing flexibility to blood vessels.
Fish oil’s heart-protective qualities first gained attention in the 1970s after Dr. Jørn Dyerberg and Hans Bang published a groundbreaking study reporting the possible benefits of a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids in native Inuits of Greenland who had little history of heart disease despite their high-fat diet.
How much long-chain omega-3 fatty acids do the meta-analysis researchers suggest is needed for healthy arteries?
They suggest a daily dosage of no less than 540 milligrams EPA and 360 milligrams DHA. This dosage accounted for the largest effect on blood vessels. The study was the first of its kind, wrote the researchers, “aimed to quantify the effects of [omega-3] supplementation on arterial stiffness through meta-analysis.”
Omega-3 Slows Muscle Loss in Older Adults
Supplementation with omega-3 fatty acids from fish oil stimulate muscle growth and can help prevent muscle loss in aging adults, according to a new randomized, controlled trial.
The findings, published in American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, suggest that fish oil supplementation may be useful as a nutritional intervention to counter the onset of sarcopenia, or age-related skeletal muscle loss. The researchers performing the study gave 16 healthy, older adults either omega-3 fatty acids (1.86 grams of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and 1.5 grams of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)) or corn oil (in equal amounts) for eight weeks.
Each of subjects in this study were considered to be in good health having no cardiovascular disease, hypertension, or diabetes. They did not engage in regular exercise, take medication that could affect protein metabolism, report excessive alcohol intake, or engage in smoking.
By the end of the study, corn oil supplementation showed no effect on muscle, but omega-3 supplementation increased muscle anabolic signaling activity.
The authors write, “Our study provides compelling evidence of an interaction of omega-3 fatty acids and protein metabolism in human muscle and suggest that dietary omega-3 fatty acid supplementation could potentially provide a safe, simple, and low-cost intervention to combat sarcopenia.”
The exact mechanism by which dietary omega-3 fatty acids increase muscle synthesis remains unclear at this time.
Sarcopenia is caused in part by a blunted anabolic response (muscle-building response) that occurs with advanced age because of defects in anabolic signaling. These defects lead to a decreased rate of muscle synthesis and an overall loss in skeletal muscle mass.
Loss of skeletal muscle mass is further influenced by a sedentary lifestyle, or lack of physical activity, and by low vitamin D status, which is often present in older adults.
Ultra-High Fish Oil Intake of Yup’ik Eskimos Linked to Better Health
If a little is good, then is more better? In the case of fish oil, to answer this question, researchers studied blood samples of Yup’ik Eskimos of western Alaska whose traditional diet of fish provides them long-chain omega-3 fatty acids in amounts well above—more than 20 times—that of which is provided by an average U.S. Western-style diet.
According to the data of the new study, which was accepted for publication in American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, an increased intake of long-chain omega-3 fatty acids—eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)—meeting the same amounts as that of the Eskimos could “have strong beneficial effects” on risk of chronic diseases.
Earlier studies have already confirmed an association with EPA and DHA intake and lower risk of chronic diseases such as coronary artery diseases and possibly type 2 diabetes and cancer, write the researchers.
Previously, however, most studies have reviewed EPA and DHA intake on biomarkers of risk of chronic diseases in low and narrow ranges. “Only 3 published observational studies were based on populations with chronic, high intakes of EPA and DHA,” the researchers point out.
When analyzing the blood samples of the Yup’ik, the researchers of the new study found that their higher levels of EPA and DHA were linked to a decreased level of C-reactive protein (CRP) of which is a known inflammatory biomarker linked to coronary artery disease. The researchers also found the Yup’ik with higher levels of EPA and DHA had lower triglycerides and higher HDL cholesterol (good cholesterol).
An association between EPA and DHA and CRP was stronger when EPA was at a concentration of equal to or more than 3 percent of total fatty acids in the blood samples, and DHA at concentrations of equal to or more than 7 percent of total fatty acids in the blood samples.
The study’s researchers wrote in conclusion, “the high consumption of EPA and DHA by Yup’ik Eskimos may partially explain the relatively low prevalence of CVD [cardiovascular disease] and diabetes in this population.”
The health advantages of fish oil’s long-chain omega-3 fatty acids have become well known since their initial discovery by Dutch medical scientists in the 1970s who studied blood samples of Greenland’s native Inuit people.
Later, studies confirmed that EPA and DHA have profound benefits on the health of the body including the cardiovascular system, the brain and eyes, as well as joints.
Fish Oil May Help Older Women Strengthen Bones
It’s long been known that adequate intake of certain nutrients such as calcium and vitamin D, along with an active lifestyle, are important factors for promoting bone health during aging. Women are especially susceptible to the frailty, fractures and morbidity that accompany age-associated bone loss and osteoporosis. Now, before you lace up your tennis shoes for your next walk or run, or hit the weights, perhaps you should add omega-3 fatty acids from fish oil to your bone-enhancing arsenal.
In a just-published study in the journal Nutrition and Metabolism, researchers from the Urmia University in Iran, in collaboration with the University of Missouri, have evaluated the synergistic effects of six months of fish oil and aerobic exercise on biomarkers of inflammation and bone health in 79 post-menopausal women aged 58 to 78. They also determined whether fish oil and exercise alone could affect these markers implicated in bone loss.
The treatments consisted of a control group, an exercise alone group, a group that only supplemented with 1 gram of fish oil containing 180 milligrams EPA and 120 milligrams DHA, and a group that combined the fish oil supplementation with aerobic exercise consisting of walking or jogging for 25 to 30 minutes per day for three or four days a week.
After six months of intervention, the researchers found that those women in the exercise and supplement group had significantly lower biomarkers of inflammation (c-reactive protein, prostaglandin E2 and interleukin-6), and increases in their serum vitamin D, estrogen and bone mineralization compared with the control subjects. For many markers of bone health and inflammation, the supplement alone and exercise alone groups also tended to observe benefits, although less than in the combined exercise and supplement group. In addition, the researchers linked inflammation and bone mineralization, and reported a strong negative association between bone mineral density and inflammatory mediators, indicating that those individuals who increased bone health also had less inflammation.
According to the authors, “These findings clearly show that the combination of PUFA [polyunsaturated fatty acid] supplementation with aerobic exercise provides numerous benefits on bone density and inflammation over exercise alone or supplementation alone.”
Finally, the authors noted that, “These changes in inflammatory indices following long-term aerobic exercise training and N-3 PUFA [omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid] supplementation may contribute significantly to the inverse relationship between inflammatory markers and osteoporosis.”
So to maximize your workout and minimize age-associated bone loss, consider the following—stretch, exercise, and follow your workout with a glassful of healthy, muscle-promoting IsaLean Shake along with a packet of Ageless Essentials Daily Pack containing bone-building calcium, vitamin D, vitamin K2, and purified, potency-guaranteed fish oil!
Fish Oil Not Only Helps You Lose Weight, It Might Help Keep Weight Off
The researchers found that among 124 adult subjects, those with higher plasma levels of omega-3 fatty acids had a “healthier BMI, waist circumference and hip circumference.”
It was also found that obese people had much lower levels of omega-3 fatty acids than other individuals of a more healthier weight.
The findings have led to theories that omega-3 fatty acids may have an effect on the body that leads to increased natural fat burning.*
Apart from weight loss, satiety and blood pressure benefits, the majority of studies on fish oil have been on its effects on heart health.
Fish Oil Supplements
One of the most effective ways to take advantage of omega-3 benefits is through regular supplementation with a quality fish oil supplement.*
Why not just eat fish? The reason is that eating fish regularly can potentially expose a person to chemicals found in the ocean, lakes, rivers and streams. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and American Heart Association, many fish contain high levels of heavy metals, PCBs and dioxins. A quality fish oil supplement that has been purified would not contain any presence of these potential toxins.
What about plant omega-3s? Plant sources of omega-3 fatty acids such as alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) are still good for the body. But fish omega-3 fatty acids, namely docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), have been found to be most effective in producing benefits for a healthy heart.*
The amount of research, in fact, has been so compelling that the American Heart Association has recommended eating a variety of fish twice a week, that patients with heart disease consume 1 gram of EPA and DHA daily and that patients who need to lower triglycerides take 2 to 4 grams of EPA daily.*
A quality supplement would have a high concentration of EPA and DHA omega-3 fatty acids. It should also be third-party tested to guarantee purity.
*This statement has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.
Fish Oil for Longer Telomeres
With all the attention surrounding telomere length as a biomarker of biological aging, it’s worth pointing out that one nutrient may make a lot of difference: fish-derived omega-3 fatty acids.
The higher the blood levels of fish-derived omega-3 fatty acids in patients with coronary heart disease, the longer the telomeres. This was what was found by researchers recently from University of California, San Francisco.
The study, published in the January issue of JAMA last year, showed that leukocyte telomere length (LTL) was positively associated with higher blood levels of omega-3 fatty acids (see figure above).
“Omega-3 fatty acids may protect against cellular aging in patients with coronary heart disease,” the authors wrote.
This longitudinal study followed 608 patients with stable coronary artery disease for five years. LTL was measured at baseline and again five years later. The baseline levels of omega-3 fatty acids were then used to compare the rates of telomere attrition, or shortening, over the five-year period.
The authors suggest that the “association of omega-3 fatty acids with decelerated telomere attrition may lie in the paradigm of oxidative stress, a powerful driver of telomere shortening.”
Omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to increase levels of catalase and superoxide dismutase (enzymes that serve important antioxidant roles in the body). The researchers hypothesize that omega-3s may even increase the activity of existing telomerase, the enzyme responsible for the addition of base pairs to DNA during replication.
Citing other work, the authors write that “the adoption of comprehensive lifestyle changes, which included daily supplementation with omega-3 fish oil, was associated with a significant increase in telomerase activity.”
Higher levels of fish-derived omega-3 fatty acids have been associated with more favorable outcomes for cardiovascular health, brain health, and vision health. Their role in preservation of telomeres appears as an added benefit for their inclusion in a healthy diet.
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Pase M, Grima N, Sarris J. Do long-chain n-3 fatty acids reduce arterial stiffness? A meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials. Br J Nutr 2011. doi: 10.1017/S0007114511002819
Pase M, Grima N, Sarris J. The effects of dietary and nutrient interventions on arterial stiffness: a systematic review. Am J Clin Nutr 2011;93:446-54. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.110.002725
Source: Smith GI, Atherton P, Reeds DN et al. Dietary omega-3 fatty acid supplementation increases the rate of muscle protein synthesis in older adults: a randomized controlled trial. Am J Clin Nutr 2010. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.110.005611
Tartibian B et al. Long-term aerobic exercise and omega-3 supplementation modulate osteoporosis through inflammatory mechanisms in post-menopausal women: a randomized, repeated measures study. Nutrition & Metabolism 2011;8:71 doi: 10.1186/1743-7075-8-71.
Farzaneh-Far R et al. Association of Marine Omega-3 Fatty Acid Levels with Telomeric Aging in Patients with Coronary Heart Disease. JAMA 2010; 303(3):250-7. doi: 10.1001/jama.2009.2008