This study aimed to examine whether long-term fish oil (FO) supplementation is associated with a lower risk of mobility disability and enhances benefits of physical activity (PA).
A total of 1635 sedentary adults age 70 to 89 yr from the Lifestyle Interventions and Independence for Elders single-blinded randomized, multicenter clinical trial, which compared a structured PA program to a health education program. Primary outcome was incident major mobility disability (MMD), defined by loss of ability to walk 400 m, measured every 6 months for an average of 2.6 yr. Secondary outcomes included persistent mobility disability, Short Physical Performance Battery, 400-m walk speed, and grip strength.
A third of participants reported using FO at baseline (456 (28%); mean age, 78.5 yr; 70.5% women). MMD was experienced by 131 participants (28.7%) in the FO group and 405 (34.4%) participants in the nonuser group. After adjusting for confounders, FO supplementation was associated with a lower risk (HR, 0.78; 95% confidence interval (CI), 0.64–0.96) of incident MMD. However, there was no interaction (P
= 0.19) between FO supplementation and PA intervention for MMD. For the secondary outcome of persistent mobility disability, the intervention association differed by supplementation (P
= 0.002) with PA intervention associations of (HR, 1.36; 95% CI, 0.83–2.23) for users and (HR, 0.61; 95% CI, 0.46–0.81) for nonusers. Changes in physical performance outcomes were not modified by baseline FO supplementation or combination with PA.
FO supplementation was associated with a lower risk of MMD in low to moderate functioning older adults. However, supplementation did not enhance the benefit of PA on risk of mobility disability. These results are hypothesis generating and need to be confirmed in randomized trials.