Interesting New Fish Oil Research

Omega-3 fatty acids have been studied extensively over the past twenty years. There is a preponderance of evidence demonstrating the cardiovascular and nervous system benefits of fish oil. However, two new studies illustrate some of the lesser known effects of omega-3 fatty acids.

Loss of strength and muscle mass is a common problem in the elderly. A recent study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition followed two groups of 60-85 year old men and women over a six month period. The participants were given either fish oil or a placebo. At the end of the study period the group given the fish oil had statistically significant increases in both strength and muscle mass as compared to the control group.[1]

A group of Argentinian researchers looked at the effects of combining omega-3s and morphine in an oral solution. They found that the combination increased the pain relieving effects of the morphine. The effect was so pronounced that the mice involved developed an analgesic response at sub-clinical doses of morphine. The omega-3s also decreased the tolerance to morphine with long-term use.[2] Considering the severe dependence and tolerance issues associated with long-term opioid use these results are quite significant and justify further research in this area.

We are just beginning to understand the complex ways that lipids interact with our bodies. These fascinating studies illustrate yet again the necessity of healthy fats for optimal health. Whether from fish, plants, or supplements omega-3 fatty acids are an essential part of a balanced, healthy diet.