With age comes changes in the body. As well as more aches and pains, a common part of aging is the loss of strength and muscle mass. But there are supplements for older adults to maintain muscle mass!
Whereas you build muscle and become stronger through your teen years and early adulthood, you will start to notice more significant differences in your muscle mass after the age of 50.
It is believed that the majority of people lose between 1 to 2% of their muscle mass after turning 50 years old. As the years go on, this only increases.
After the age of 60, the loss of muscle mass accelerates further.
Elderly individuals will experience this loss in greater terms with the possible onset of cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
A decrease in muscle mass comes with a whole host of potential dangers.
As we grow older, the risk of injury and falling becomes more prevalent, and the overall quality of life of individuals will start to decline after a certain age.
This is why researchers have been striving to find different methods to help slow the aging process, in particular, the rate that muscle mass decreases.
Such research has discovered some interesting results, and nutrients have been found to help support our muscle tissue as we age.
Today, we are going to discuss the different nutrients and supplements (see also ‘The 10 Most Important Vitamins For Aging Muscles’)that can maintain muscle mass for the older generation.
We will delve into how these supplements help slow the rate of muscle mass loss.
We will also find out more about the side effects of a decree in muscle mass and why maintaining as much muscle as possible is crucial to live a long, healthy life.
The Loss Of Muscle Mass And Sarcopenia
Sarcopenia is recognized as an age-related disease. A large proportion of men over the age of 50 are at a greater risk of this disease due to a loss of muscle mass and function.
Unfortunately, this condition is not greatly understood, making it harder for researchers to pinpoint why it is harder to increase muscle mass after the age of 50.
Even after the age of 30, your body starts to lose around 1 pound of muscle mass every two years. Fast-forward to the age of 80, and it is estimated that around half will suffer from sarcopenia.
This disease is hugely detrimental to overall well-being and health, with 15 to 50% of those with it suffering from cancer.
In fact, according to the Nutrition in Clinical Practice, 30 to 45% with the condition also have liver failure, and 60 to 70% are critically ill.
Although sarcopenia is not understood all that well, researchers believe there are a combination of factors that cause it.
The primary reason is believed to be poor nutrition, such as malnourishment.
Combine this with a sedentary lifestyle, and the recipe can be disastrous into older age.
Hormone levels also decline as we age, with lower levels of growth hormones and testosterone making it harder to build or rebuild muscle mass.
It’s not all doom and gloom, however. Some supplements have been found to help maintain muscle mass in older individuals. Let’s take a look at the best examples below.
Supplements for Older Adults To Maintain Muscle Mass
HMB, also known as beta-hydroxy-beta-methylbutyrate, is a nutrient that can have a unique effect on the body.
Similar to leucine, another supplement we will discuss further down, HMB has been found to help reduce the loss of muscle mass that is caused by various stress hormones as we age.
With stress hormones being one of the prime reasons for muscle mass, HMB supplements have been shown to have some effect in slowing or reducing muscle loss.
BCAAs (Branched Chain Amino Acids)
Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs) consist of leucine (mentioned above), valine, and isoleucine.
Together, these are regarded as essential amino acids. In other words, our bodies are unable to make these amino acids naturally.
Therefore, you can only obtain them via your diet or through certain supplements.
Amino acids are the foundations and building blocks for proteins and neurotransmitters throughout the body.
BCAAs also help to reduce the breakdown of muscles and can even prevent them from breaking down.
Although taking BCAA supplements alone can have positive effects on muscle mass, combining them with resistance training can have an even greater impact.
When you do this, BCAAs can help increase overall testosterone levels whilst simultaneously decreasing stress hormones in the body.
Out of all of these amino acids, Leucine is regarded as the most important in maintaining muscle mass, but together, each amino acid can work together to improve muscle mass as you grow older.
A deficiency of vitamin D (see also ‘What Vitamins Should Men Take Daily At Different Ages?‘) is worryingly common throughout the mass population.
When we consider that the metabolic conversion of vitamin D into an active state decreases over time, vitamin D deficiency can lead to substantial issues as we age.
Vitamin D is hugely important for our health, especially when supporting our muscle growth and strength.
When someone has low levels of vitamin D in their body, they are at a greater risk of falls, poor immune functions, and suffering from low bone mineral density.
But, taking vitamin D supplements can improve a person’s life in many ways.
These supplements can lower the risk of falls as we get older and it has been found that vitamin D supplementation can improve overall physical strength and performance.
A main reason for the loss of muscle mass in older adults is the production of ROS (Reactive Oxygen Species).
This can cause inflammatory signaling molecules to build up throughout the body, resulting in the breakdown of muscle tissue.
Although this can have a significant effect on muscle mass, certain supplements have been shown to help.
Vitamin C, E, and carotenoids, such as lutein, beta-carotene, lycopene, zeaxanthin, and astaxanthin, may be able to support muscle mass and maintain healthy muscle strength as we age.
Have you ever seen your grandparents take omega-3 supplements that contain fish oils?
This may be because these also have inflammatory-modulating effects that can support a healthy muscle mass even further.
Do We Lose All Of Our Muscles As We Age?
The short answer is, no. If you’re worried about turning 50 and losing all of your muscle mass overnight, you can stop fretting, as this will not happen.
Yes, you will lose some muscle mass as you get older, but this happens gradually over time.
But, with certain lifestyle changes and supplements, this process can be slowed down significantly.
You can even gain muscle with certain lifestyle choices as well.
The main ingredient to healthy muscle mass as you grow older is an active lifestyle.
Start by walking every day. You can then progress to resistance training with body weight exercises, the use of resistance bands, free weights, and certain machines.
You should also eat a high-protein diet, as this can stimulate MPS.
Try to get around 25 to 40 grams of protein in each meal. If this is a challenge, take supplements, such as vitamin D, creatine, and omega-3.
It is important to get regular physical exercise even when taking supplements to reduce muscle mass loss as you grow older.
By doing this, you can maintain muscle mass into your twilight years.