Written by Yi Wen Tan

WHAT IS SARCOPENIA?

Sarcopenia is understood as an age-related loss of muscle mass, muscle strength, and physical function. The decrease of muscle leads to reduction in a person’s strength. As a result, it affects a person’s ability to perform everyday activities.

Symptoms include muscle weakness, loss of endurance, poor balance and trouble climbing stairs. Muscle mass starts to decline around the age of 40 according to the International Osteoporosis Foundation (IOF).

The loss of muscle tissue may progress more rapidly when a person reaches their 60s and 70s.

CAUSE OF SARCOPENIA

Increase inflammation due to a variety of disease and aging

Decline in activity

Decline in nutritional intake

Decline in hormones such as testosterone and growth factor that is important in muscle mass maintenance

WAY TO MANAGE SARCOPENIA

1. Strength training or resistance training 

Can improve muscle size, strength, and tone. It can also strengthen bones, ligaments, and tendons. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), older adults should participate in muscle-strengthening activities a minimum of 2 days a week. They should exercise all the major muscle groups, which include the legs, arms, chest, shoulders, back, and abdomen.

2. Eating enough protein 

The IOF recommend that adults eat 1-1.2 grams of protein per kilogram of bodyweight daily. The amino acid leucine is particularly important for regulating muscle growth. Rich sources of leucine include whey protein, meat, fish and eggs, as well as soy protein isolate.

The leucine metabolite beta-hydroxy-beta-methylbutyrate (HMB) has been used for the management of sarcopenia in older persons. A small number of studies have shown increases in lean (muscle) mass and some muscle function and physical performance parameters in older people with or without resistance exercise, and preservation of muscle mass during bed rest.

Similarly, maintaining adequate levels of vitamin D may help older adults maintain muscle strength. Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) might be an alternative therapeutic agent for sarcopenia due to their anti-inflammatory properties, which the age-related chronic low-grade inflammation which is assumed to contribute to the development of sarcopenia.

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