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Proteins and aging

  • Health nutrition
  • protein
  • studies

Perhaps you are wondering about the protein intake in connection with aging? How is it possible to maintain muscle mass as we age? What role do proteins play in the daily life of seniors?

When muscles increase life expectancy

Many large-scale studies have sought to analyze the causes of senior mortality. Over 32% of deaths are caused by cancer and 28% by cardiovascular disease. From this research on longevity emerges an interesting data: the more a senior has a significant muscle mass, the more he or she is likely to live a long time (1-2).

On the contrary, a deficit in muscle mass leads to a significant decrease in life expectancy (1-2).

This beneficial role of muscle is easily explained: the more toned the muscles, the lower the risk of falls, which can be dramatic or even fatal in seniors. In addition, the lack of muscle reduces mobility: the lack of physical activity is a very important factor that leads to bodily degeneration. Lack of muscle mass in older people is a syndrome called sarcopenia.

How to maintain muscle mass in seniors?

Of course, you have to maintain daily physical activity. But medical studies also show that diet, and particularly protein, play a very important role (3 to 8).

Contrary to popular belief, seniors should not reduce their protein intake, it is better that they increase it.

Regular protein supplementation, especially if it is rich in leucine, allows a gain in muscle mass and strength in seniors (9 to 12). Citrulline and creatine are also preferred supplements (6-8).

Scientific references

(1) Graf C. Plus l’index de masse non grasse (FFMI) est élevé, plus le risque de mortalité est faible chez 2 958 sujets âgés de 65 ans et plus. Nutrition Clinique et Métabolisme Volume 2014 28, Supplement 1, December, Pages S63.

(2) Graf CE. Body composition and all-cause mortality in subjects older than 65 y. Am J Clin Nutr. 2015 Apr;101(4):760-7

(3) Murton AJ. Muscle protein turnover in the elderly and its potential contribution to the development of sarcopenia. Proc Nutr Soc. 2015 Mar 31:1-10.

(4) Dardevet D. Muscle wasting and resistance of muscle anabolism: the "anabolic threshold concept" for adapted nutritional strategies during sarcopenia. Scientific World Journal. 2012;2012:269531.

(5) Cynober L. Apports nutritionnels conseillés chez la personne âgée. Nutrition Clinique et Métabolisme 2000 sept;14, Supplément 1(0):3-60.

(6) Martone AM. Treating sarcopenia in older and oldest old. Curr Pharm Des. 2015;21(13):1715-22.

(7) Barillaro C. The new metabolic treatments for sarcopenia. Aging Clin Exp Res. 2013 May; 25(2):119-27.

(8) Wall BT. Dietary protein considerations to support active aging. Sports Med. 2014 Nov;44 Suppl 2:S185-94.

(9) Ispoglou T. Double-blind, placebo-controlled pilot trial of L-Leucine-enriched amino-acid mixtures on body composition and physical performance in men and women aged 65-75 years. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2015 Jun 17.

(10) Kim HK. Effects of exercise and amino acid supplementation on body composition and physical function in community-dwelling elderly Japanese sarcopenic women: a randomized controlled trial. J Am Geriatr Soc. 2012 Jan;60(1):16-23.

(11) Cruz-Jentoft AJ. Prevalence of and interventions for sarcopenia in ageing adults: a systematic review. Report of the International Sarcopenia Initiative (EWGSOP and IWGS). Age Ageing. 2014 Nov;43(6):748-59.

(12) Genaro Pde S. Dietary protein intake in elderly women: association with muscle and bone mass. Nutr Clin Pract. 2015 Apr;30(2):283-9.


Written on 12/31/2021 by Nutrimuscle Conseil
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