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Baylor Research Sheds Light With R1 Recognition And Omega-3 Study

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Your voice is not something you spend a lot of time thinking about.  But for Dr. Kimberly Monzón, it is pretty much everything.

“It’s humanity, it’s how we express ourselves.  It’s how we connect to each other, one of the ways, and it’s so engrained in everybody’s lives.”

Monzón is an Assistant Professor of Voice at Baylor University’s School of Music and said that after coming to Baylor she began to share common interests with Dr. Brittany Perrine from Communication Sciences and Disorders, as well as, Professor Lauren Weber, a certified vocalogist from Baylor’s Department of Theatre.  All three of them were interested in researching vocal health.

Then in the summer of 2020, Monzón and Weber participated in the Summer Faculty Institute, where they met Dr. LesLee Funderburk, Assistant Professor in Nutrition Sciences with Baylor.  She had been doing some research on the anti-inflammatory effects that Omega-3 has on the body.

“And so, I reached out to her at one point and told her that I was fan-girling over her research, and Lauren also reached out to her and said that she found it really interesting.  So, we just kind of started talking, after SFI, LesLee reached out to both of us and said, hey, let’s see what’s here.”

During the Spring 2021 semester, they decided to do a ten-week study to see if those participants receiving an Omega-3 supplement had improvements in vocal function versus those receiving a placebo.

For this study, they chose healthy men and women between the ages of 18 and 28.  To begin the study they took some base line tests including body composition as well as a vocal profile.

“We did the voice range profile, where we measured the loudest that they could sing, the highest they could sing, the softest, and the lowest that they could sing.”

Some of the participants were given the Omega-3 supplement, and others were given a placebo.  During the study, the participants were required to check in and give an update on how they felt.

“Here’s your new bottle, give me your old bottle, and we were checking compliance at the same time.  So, we would check on them every two weeks throughout that ten-week period.”

That’s Dr. Funderburk, and she thinks that if an individual has enough Omega-3 fatty acid in their diet it can counter balance the Omega-6 fatty acids that we consume too much of.  Balancing those two things out should lead to a reduction in overall inflammation, therefore improving the voice.

So, after the study, what did they discover…

“Half of the males in the supplement group experienced an increase in their lower range, in their lower register.”

Dr. Monzón also said that 75 percent of those participants in the supplement group said they felt they were singing better.

Not only does the Omega-3 help reduce inflammation, but they believe that it helps with recovery time.  Much like an athlete in training…

“Translating that to someone using their voice on a frequent basis, then if they are better able to recover.  They could one, feel better using their voice, and perhaps avoid injury.”

So, I had to ask Dr. Funderburk if this was a special kind of Omega-3, or is it something that I can get over the counter?

“It is a fish oil product.  Almost a two to one ratio with the EPA DHA, so it is over the counter, anyone can purchase it.”

Not only has the study shown beneficial results, there have been other interesting side effects.

“I think it’s opening their eyes to more possibilities.  Rather than just show up and take your voice lesson and go to choir.”

“I was surprised honestly by the overall idea of the study, and the questions being proposed.  It’s so interesting that Omega-3 fatty acids and your singing voice.  I’m a Political Science major, so it was really interesting for me to see like a nutrition side and the music side and see it all work together.”

Rachel Olivarez is a senior at Baylor and worked on the clinical side of the study doing data entry and helping with the baseline surveys.

Dr. Monzón tells me that they have received approval for a third study where they will look at the effects of Omega-3 and the voice in older adults.