Elderly and patients affected by chronic diseases face a high risk of muscle loss and impaired physical function. Omega 3 fatty acids (FA) attenuate inflammation and age-associated muscle loss, prevent systemic insulin resistance and improve plasma lipids, potentially impacting on sarcopenia. This paper aims to review recent randomized clinical studies assessing the effects a chronic omega 3 FA supplementation on inflammatory and metabolic profile during conditions characterized by sarcopenia (aging, insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes, chronic renal failure). A comprehensive search of three online databases was performed to identify eligible trials published between 2012 and 2017. A total of 36 studies met inclusion criteria. Omega 3 FA yielded mixed results on plasma triglycerides in the elderly and no effects in renal patients. No changes in systemic insulin resistance were observed. Inflammation markers did not benefit from omega 3 FA in insulin resistant and in renal subjects while decreasing in obese and elderly. Muscle related parameters improved in elderly and in renal patients. In conclusion, in aging- and in chronic disease-associated sarcopenia omega 3 FA are promising independently of associated anabolic stimuli or of anti-inflammatory effects. The evidence for improved glucose metabolism in insulin resistant and in chronic inflammatory states is less solid.
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