Nutrition plays a key role in sarcopenia (loss of muscle mass) according to new research just out.
The latest study examined the role of nutrition in loss of muscle mass, with focus on protein, vitamins D and B, and acid-based diets.
Commenting on this study, Dr Gill Jenkins from the Simplyhealth Advisory Research Panel (ShARP) says: “Exercise, both generally, and more specifically in the form of resistance training, is important in the prevention of the loss of muscle mass but this new study identifies nutritional factors that contribute to loss of muscle mass, or conversely, are beneficial in the maintenance of muscle mass. The authors reviewed evidence from worldwide studies on the role of nutrition in sarcopenia, specifically looking at protein, acid-base balance, vitamin D, calcium, and other minor nutrients like B vitamins.
“The review identified vital nutritional factors that have been shown to be beneficial in the maintenance of muscle mass and the treatment and prevention of sarcopenia. In summary these included:
Protein: Protein intake plays an integral part in muscle health. The authors propose an intake of 1.0-1.2 g/kg of body weight per day as optimal for skeletal muscle and bone health in elderly people without severely impaired renal function.
Vitamin D: As many studies indicate a role for vitamin D in the development and preservation of muscle mass and function, adequate vitamin D should be ensured through exposure to sunlight and/or supplementation if required. The author’s review recommends vitamin D supplementation in older people, and especially those in care homes.
Avoiding dietary acid loads: The diet should be well balanced with plenty of fruit and vegetables, cereal grains and meat within recommended guidelines. Modifying the diet to include more fruits and vegetables is likely to benefit both bones and muscles according to the review.”
In summary, Dr Jenkins notes: “Emerging evidence also suggests that vitamin B12 and/or folic acid play a role in improving muscle function and strength.
“The review also discusses non-nutritional interventions such as hormones, and calls for more studies to identify the potential of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds in the prevention of sarcopenia.
“In our ageing population, falls, with their subsequent detrimental effect on quality of life as well as the burden of costs to the NHS, have become a major issue. Strategies to maintain muscle strength and reduce the numbers of falls and fractures should include measures to prevent sarcopenia. Overall, this data together with other evidence suggests that combining resistance training with a diet rich in good nutrition and full of those vital vitamins and minerals has beneficial effect in preventing and treating muscle mass loss.”