Mice run faster on high-grade oil

June 29, 2009

Between the 1932 and 2008 Olympic Games, world record times of the men's 100m sprint improved by 0.6 seconds. Scientists at the Research Institute of Wildlife Ecology in Austria have shown that an equivalent improvement can be achieved in mice by feeding them a diet high in a certain type of polyunsaturated fatty acid. Dr. Christopher Turbill will present the research at the Society for Experimental Biology meeting on Monday, June 29.

Polyunsaturated fatty acids are important dietary components which cannot synthesize de novo. The research, to be presented on 29th June 2009 at the Society for Annual Meeting, has shown that mice fed for two weeks on a diet high in sunflower oil, which contains n-6 , ran on average 0.19m/s faster than mice fed a diet rich in linseed oil, which is high in n-3 fatty acids.

This means that, over a 2 second sprint, a mouse fed on a high n-6 fatty acid diet would have a 0.4m advantage. This represents a 6.3% improvement which equals that achieved in the 100m world records over more than 75 years. For a mouse, or other small mammal, this would be significant in evolutionary terms when escaping from a predator or catching prey. "The results of the current study on mice suggest that moderate differences in dietary n-6/n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid intake can have a biologically meaningful effect on maximum running speed", says Dr Christopher Turbill who will be presenting the research.

A previous study by the group, which looked at a range of mammal species, found that those with a relatively high n-6 fatty acid content in their skeletal muscles had a greater maximum running speed. Combined, these two studies suggest that diets enriched in these fatty acids "could also affect the maximum (or burst) running speed of other vertebrates, including humans" says Dr Turbill. "The application of this research to the performance of elite athletes (specifically those in sports that involve short distance sprints, including cycling) is uncertain, but in my opinion certainly deserves some further attention" he says.

Source: Society for Experimental Biology

Explore further: Omega-3 fatty acids protect against Parkinson's, study says

Related Stories

Omega-3 fatty acids protect against Parkinson's, study says

November 26, 2007

Omega-3 fatty acids protect the brain against Parkinson’s disease, according to a study by Université Laval researchers published in the online edition of the FASEB Journal, the journal of the Federation of American Societies ...

Pregnant mothers' diet linked to baby's obesity

April 4, 2008

Pregnant and lactating rats fed on a diet of hydrogenated fat during pregnancy and lactation had babies who were fatter than rats fed a normal diet, according to research published in Lipids in Health and Disease. The unhealthy ...

Recommended for you

Stressed-out meerkats less likely to help group

September 22, 2017

Dominant female meerkats use aggression to keep subordinates from breeding, but a new study finds this negative behavior also can result in the latter becoming less willing to help within the group.

Why poison frogs don't poison themselves

September 21, 2017

Don't let their appearance fool you: Thimble-sized, dappled in cheerful colors and squishy, poison frogs in fact harbor some of the most potent neurotoxins we know. With a new paper published in the journal Science, scientists ...


Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

not rated yet Jun 29, 2009
The omega 3 in Linseed oil (linolenic acid) oxidizes to very toxic compounds ca. 2.5 times faster than the omega 6 in sunflower oil (linoleic acid), assuming it was not the now very common high oleic sunflower oil, may be the reason for the difference. Did they analyze for fatty acids content?

Also, were equimolar amounts of linoleic and linolenic acids fed to the different groups? Did they try feeding equimolar amounts of oleic and stearic acids to complete the gamut of common C18 fatty acids?

Look like a poorly designed study to me.
not rated yet Jul 07, 2009
Of course, the oils were very freshly cold-extracted, and the mixed diets were kept and used in way that minimised oxidation. The diets were approximately energy-equivalent. And both the fatty acid composition of the diets and leg muscle sarcoplasmic reticulum membranes were measured.

It seems the above author, from this posting and their other comments, is often quick to criticize without being fully aware of the already published data or other facts.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.