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Fish oil acids help muscles stay strong

A COMBINATION of fish oil and visits to the gym can help ageing muscles stay strong, research suggests.

Women pensioners following the advice in a pilot trial doubled the rate at which exercise improved their muscles.

Experts believe the anti-inflammatory properties of omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil counteract the natural effects of ageing that weaken the body.

Age-related loss of muscle mass, known as sarcopenia, starts in middle age. It seriously affects around 20pc of the population aged 50 to 70 and half of everyone aged 80.

The condition saps strength leading to problems performing every day tasks, such as shopping, dressing and rising from a chair.

Although exercise helps, ageing muscles do not respond to training as well as young ones.

"We're trying to make older muscle adapt like younger muscle, and that's where we think fish oil can come in," said lead scientist Dr Stuart Gray from the University of Aberdeen's Musculoskeletal Research Programme.

Fourteen women aged 65 and over took part in last year's pilot study. Half took four grams of fish oil a day for a month, while the remainder received olive oil.

All the women attended two gym sessions a week during which they were given lower limb resistance training which involved leg flexing, pushing, and pointing ankles.

The results were so encouraging that a bigger study -- run on similar lines but with 60 older men and women taking part in more gym sessions -- is now under way.