New research from McMaster University, Hamilton/Ont. showed that sarcopenia in elderly can be treated. Sarcopenia is the condition where muscle mass and strength fade away with age. It is particularly common in seniors, a growing portion of the population worldwide.
Sarcopenia may be the reason why an older person can suddenly not get up from a chair or move up or down the stairs.
McMaster University in Hamilton/Ont. conducted a clinical trial where a study group of at least 70 year old or older people with sarcopenia received a supplementation of whey protein, fish oil, calcium, vitamin D and creatine.
The control group only received a placebo supplement.
Further details regarding the study on treating sarcopenia in elderly patients.
- During the first 6 weeks the experimental group received the following cocktail twice per day: 30 grams of whey protein, 2.5 grams of creatine, 400 mg of calcium, 500 IU of vitamin D3, omega-3 fatty acid (EPA 1400 mg and DHA 890 mg). The control group received only 22 grams of maltodextrin.
- During the next 14 weeks the supplementation for the two groups was the same; but from week 7 to 18 inclusive (for 12 weeks) both groups underwent a rigorous muscle-training program. This consisted of high-intensity interval training,
- At baseline, week 6 and week 19 the researchers tested isotonic strength, aerobic fitness and body composition. A 75 gram oral glucose tolerance test and nutritional analysis were also part of the study.
- 38 patients completed the experimental study group.
Results of the study
The initial 6 weeks of supplementation showed that the muscle bulk of the experimental group was increasing. The control group showed no increase of muscle mass.
After 12 weeks of isotonic exercises there was a significant increase of strength in both the experimental group and the control group. However, the increase of strength was greater in the experimental group that received the supplementation.
The authors concluded that a multi-ingredient nutritional supplement could increase both muscle mass and muscle strength, particularly in conjunction with an isometric exercise program.
In the past the general opinion was that aging would lead to sarcopenia, and there was no effective treatment available. Based on the data of the clinical trial this viewpoint needs revision. Sarcopenia in older people is indeed treatable. But for best results a combination of supplements and a specific exercise program are necessary. Older people no longer have to have problems getting up from a chair or having falls due to a lack of muscle strength. The key is preventing this through a combination of supplements and muscle strengthening exercises.