Skip to main content

Avoiding age-related muscle loss

January 25, 2013

There are many natural signs of aging, some of which can make active senior living difficult. One of the most common is the gradual loss of muscle, also known as sarcopenia. The lack of strength in muscles that results from this condition can threaten healthy aging in a number of ways, including raising the risk of falls and other injuries. Fortunately, seniors can stay ahead of the situation, as certain changes to their diet that can help prevent the loss of muscle mass as they age.

Recent guidelines from the International Osteoporosis Foundation (IOF) highlight several nutrients that are critical for muscle health,with protein highlighted as the most important. Experts recommend seniors get between1.0-1.2 g/kg of protein each day, and while there are plenty of good sources of protein for younger individuals, seniors should choose a bit more carefully. For instance, crafting a diet that includes lean chicken and salmon can provide plenty of protein while avoiding the cholesterol offered by red meat and eggs.

The IOF also stresses the importance of vitamin D. This vital nutrient can sometimes be hard for seniors to include in their everyday meals, but some of the best sources include seafood such as tuna and oysters as well as mushrooms. Seniors can also increase their vitamin D levels by getting natural sunlight or taking supplements.

Dietary changes can help maintain muscle mass, but exercise plays an important role as well. Specifically, the IOF claims muscle-building resistance training offers the greatest benefits and should be a standard part of a healthy lifestyle for seniors.

"At present, the available evidence suggests that combining resistance training with optimal nutritional status has a synergistic effect in preventing and treating sarcopenia," said researcher Dr. Ambrish Mithal.