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Sarcopenia & Healthy Aging

Age-Related Sarcopenia

Awakened from months of hibernation, bears emerge with their muscles largely intact. Not so for humans. If we were to rest bedridden that long, we would lose so much muscle we would have trouble standing.

Sarcopenia Is To Muscle What Osteoporosis Is To Bone

SarcopeniaFrom around the time you turn 30, you begin to lose muscle mass and function, a condition known as age-related sarcopenia. People who are physically inactive can lose as much as 3% to 5% of their muscle mass per decade after age 30. Even if you are active, you will still experience some muscle loss. Sarcopenia is to muscle what osteoporosis is to bone.

An 80-year-old might have 30% less muscle mass than a 20-year-old. And strength declines even more than mass. Weight-lifting records for 60-year-old men are 30% lower than for 30-year-olds; for women the drop-off is 50%.

Although there is no accepted test for sarcopenia diagnosis, any loss of muscle means loss of strength and mobility. Sarcopenia typically accelerates around age 75. Known to happen in people from the age 65 or 80. the occurrence of frailty with the likelihood of falls and fractures increases in older adults.

Causes of Sarcopenia

Causes of sarcopenia may include hormonal changes, oxidative damage, infiltration of fat into muscles, sedentary lifestyles, inflammation and resistance to insulin. Some problems stem from the brain and nervous system, which activate the muscles.

The International Osteoporosis Foundation (IOF) Nutrition Working Group has published a review that points out nutritional factors that contribute to loss of muscle, or conversely, are beneficial to the maintenance of muscle. Studies on the role of nutrition in sarcopenia, focusing on protein, vitamin D/calcium,  acid–base balance, and other nutrients such as B vitamins were done. The most obvious intervention against sarcopenia is resistance training. However, optimal dietary acid-base balance and adequate nutritional intake share very important elements of any strategy to preserve strength and muscle mass during the aging process.

Ideal Approach to Restoring or Maintaining Muscle Mass and Strength is Exercise

Experts say the ideal approach to restoring or maintaining muscle mass and strength is exercise. Resistance training safely monitored by a personal trainer can do more than merely improve mass or strength. In the elderly strength training can dramatically improve walking ability and ultimately prevent people from falling.

Daily monitored physical therapy can restore mobility faster after a person is bedridden. Older people can lose so much muscle mass during a prolonged hospital stay that they have to move to a nursing home.

Nutrition Shown to Be Beneficial for the Maintenance of Muscle Mass

The following important nutritional factors has shown to be beneficial for the maintenance of muscle mass and the treatment and prevention of sarcopenia:

Protein
An intake of 1.0–1.2 g/kg of body weight per day is optimal for bone health and skeletal muscle in elderly people without severely impaired renal function.

Vitamin D
Adequate vitamin D should be ensured through exposure to sunlight and/or supplementation if required. Supplementation in seniors, and especially in institutionalized elderly, is recommended for optimal musculoskeletal health.

Avoid Acidic Diet
Modifying the diet to include more fruits and vegetables is likely to benefit both bones and muscles. Excess intake of acid-producing nutrients (meat and cereal grains) in combination with low intake of alkalizing vegetables & fruits have negative effects on musculoskeletal health. Vitamin B12 and/or folic acid play a crucial role in improving muscle function and strength.

Maintaining muscle is possible through proper nutrition and resistance training monitored by a personal trainer. Hiring a personal trainer can demonstrate an exceptional lifestyle choice and cost savings.

Ref: http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00198-012-2236-y

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