The Influence of n-3PUFA Supplementation on Muscle Strength, Mass, and Function: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

Adv Nutr. 2023 Jan;14(1):115-127. doi: 10.1016/j.advnut.2022.11.005. Epub 2022 Dec 24.


The effects of omega 3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (n-3PUFA) supplementation on skeletal muscle are currently unclear. The purpose of this systematic review was to synthesize all available evidence regarding the influence of n-3PUFA supplementation on muscle mass, strength, and function in healthy young and older adults. Four databases were searched (Medline, Embase, Cochrane CENTRAL, and SportDiscus). Predefined eligibility criteria were determined according to Population, Intervention, Comparator, Outcomes, and Study Design. Only peer-reviewed studies were included. The Cochrane RoB2 Tool and the NutriGrade approach were used to access risk of bias and certainty in evidence. Effect sizes were calculated using pre-post scores and analyzed using a three-level, random-effects meta-analysis. When sufficient studies were available, subanalyses were performed in the muscle mass, strength, and function outcomes according to participant’s age (<60 or ≥60 years), supplementation dosage (<2 or ≥2 g/day), and training intervention (“resistance training” vs. “none or other”). Overall, 14 individual studies were included, total 1443 participants (913 females; 520 males) and 52 outcomes measures. Studies had high overall risk of bias and consideration of all NutriGrade elements resulted in a certainty assessment of moderate meta-evidence for all outcomes. n-3PUFA supplementation had no significant effect on muscle mass (standard mean difference [SMD] = 0.07 [95% CI: -0.02, 0.17], P = 0.11) and muscle function (SMD = 0.03 [95% CI: -0.09, 0.15], P = 0.58), but it showed a very small albeit significant positive effect on muscle strength (SMD = 0.12 [95% CI: 0.006, 0.24], P = 0.04) in participants when compared with placebo. Subgroup analyses showed that age, supplementation dose, or cosupplementation alongside resistance training did not influence these responses. In conclusion, our analyses indicated that n-3PUFA supplementation may lead to very small increases in muscle strength but did not impact muscle mass and function in healthy young and older adults. To our knowledge, this is the first review and meta-analysis investigating whether n-3PUFA supplementation can lead to increases in muscle strength, mass, and function in healthy adults. Registered protocol:

PMID:36811583 | DOI:10.1016/j.advnut.2022.11.005