N-3 fatty acids reduce age-related physical performance decline
Ageing may be inevitable, but it'll be accompanied by less defects if you have more n-3 fatty acids in your blood. Gerontologists at the Second University of Naples came to this conclusion after studying 1300 elderly Italians. N-3 fatty acids inhibit ageing processes in the body's movement equipment.
The researchers are on the lookout for nutritional interventions that can help to keep the ageing population in western countries healthy and independent. They were interested to know whether n-3 fatty acids have a longevity effect. To find out they measured the concentration of a series of food fatty acids in the blood of their group of elderly Italians. The average age of the group was 69, and the oldest subject was 104.
The geriatricians also measured how fit their test subjects were.
In the first round of measurements the researchers noticed that the fitter subjects [>9] had more n-3 fatty acids in their blood than less fit subjects [<9]. The table below shows the results.
The researchers monitored their elderly subjects for three years, noting any physical decline. After performing intensive statistical gymnastics they produced the data in the table below. The lower the odds ratio, the more beneficial the effect of the particular fatty acid on physical functioning. The lower the p, the more significant the effect.
The more n-3 fatty acids the researchers found in the blood of their elderly subjects, the less physical decline they showed. Plant food-based omega-6 fatty acids do not have a negative effect, as long as there are sufficient amounts of n-3 fatty acids circulating in the elderly bodies.
Fish consumption is fairly low in the region where the Italians recruited their research subjects. The n-3 fatty acids that the researchers measured therefore probably do not come from fish, but from plant sources of n-3 fatty acids, such as linseed and nuts. These contain the n-3 fatty acid ALA. Enzymes in the body convert ALA into the 'real' n-3 fatty acids, EPA and DHA.
How n-3 fatty acids retard ageing processes in the body's movement apparatus the researchers do not yet know. They speculate that the n-3 fatty acids diminish the catabolic inflammatory processes that intensify as the body ages.
Rejuvenation Res. 2009 Feb;12(1):25-32.
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