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Vitamins for Maintaining Muscle Mass and Muscle Function in the Elderly

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  • Vitamins for Maintaining Muscle Mass and Muscle Function in the Elderly

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    Muscle mass begins to decline after age 30 at a rate of 3% per decade. It seems to be a trifle and at this age is completely invisible. After 50, muscle loss is about 1% of skeletal muscle mass each year and upon reaching the age of 60, this process accelerates significantly.

    Even more annoying, there is less muscle and more fatty tissue. Between the ages of 30 and 60, the average person annually loses 0.5 lbs (0.23 kg) of muscle and instead gains 1 lb (0.45 kg) of fat.


    As a result, one in three men and one in ten women aged 80 years and older develop sarcopenic obesity. In the USA, about 13% of the population over 85 has severe sarcopenia.


    A decrease in muscle volume affects motor function. A person not only moves less but also does it not so coordinatedly as in younger years.

    As a result, the risk of falls and fractures increases (and by old age, as we know, the risk of developing osteoporosis increases, which leads to a decrease in bone density). All this threatens with injury, disability, loss of the ability to self-serve and move around ...

    Observations show that men more often than women face the problem of sarcopenia. At the same time, in old age, the risk of premature death of people with age-related muscle atrophy is 2.3 times higher than that of those who managed to stop or slow down this process.








    Why do we lose muscle as we age?

    It should be understood that skeletal muscle fibers themselves are multinucleated formations incapable of dividing and forming new cells. And young fibers are formed from satellite cells.

    And it is the number of these cells that begins to decrease in sarcopenia. As a result, a person first of all loses the ability to make fast movements.

    Against this background, mitochondrial dysfunction develops - mitochondria, the "energy stations" of the cell, stop working at full capacity, the cell's ability to defend itself from oxidative stress decreases, membrane damage develops - muscle fiber atrophies and dies.







    What triggers all these destructive processes?


    Scientists and doctors identify several main reasons for the development of sarcopenia.
    • Age-related hormonal imbalance

    Over the years, our body produces fewer and fewer hormones, including sex hormones - testosterone and estrogen, as well as growth hormone. And all of them are involved in the growth and maintenance of muscles.
    • Changes in the activity of the nervous system

    A vicious circle: with age, a person begins to move less, the activity of the nerves that control the skeletal muscles involved in this process also decreases.
    • Age-related loss of appetite

    Less movement requires less energy. The aging body begins to save it, trying not to waste it. Often a person loses appetite - old people no longer need as much food as before.

    And less food means fewer amino acids from which protein can be synthesized. And this also leads to muscular atrophy.

    Before muscle mass begins to decrease, a person loses strength. It is more and more difficult to carry or move heavy objects, a person avoids stairs and other types of household physical activity, as well as energy-intensive household chores.

    More and more often help is needed. A European study showed that men with the least muscle mass were 10 times less likely to live independently.









    How can vitamin C help people over 50 to maintain muscle mass?



    Studies have shown that vitamin C and vitamin D play an important role in maintaining muscle mass and muscle function in old age. Vitamin C may be the key to increasing muscle volume and improving muscle function in old age.

    Research shows that older people who eat a lot of vitamin C found in fruits and vegetables have better skeletal muscle mass.

    It must be emphasized that we are not talking about ascorbic acid tablets sold in pharmacies, but about the use of plant foods rich in vitamin C.

    By eating fruits and vegetables, you will never get an overdose of vitamin C, dangerous side effects.


    Deficiency of any vitamins, including vitamin C, is dangerous, but no less dangerous is an overdose, which is easy to get with the uncontrolled use of artificial vitamins because synthetic vitamins almost immediately and in full enter the bloodstream.


    Consumption of vitamin C contributes to the preservation of skeletal muscles. It helps protect cells and tissues that make up the body from potentially harmful free radicals.

    Without such resistance, free radicals can contribute to muscle breakdown, thereby accelerating aging. Thus, dietary vitamin C is important for muscle health in older men and women and may be helpful in preventing age-related muscle loss.


    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32851397/

    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21934124/








    Vitamin D deficiency has also been linked to poor muscle function in old age

    Maintaining skeletal muscle function throughout life is an essential component of healthy aging and promotes independence and mobility, improves the quality of life, and helps reduce falls and fractures.

    Strength training is known to help maintain muscle mass and strength. There is ample evidence that adequate vitamin D status also contributes to this.

    The prevalence of muscle weakness is almost twice as high among older adults with vitamin D deficiency (40.4%) compared with vitamin D adequacy (21.6%).


    Similarly, in older people with vitamin D deficiency, the decline in muscle performance is three times higher (25.2%) compared with vitamin D adequacy (7.9%).


    Research shows that vitamin D deficiency significantly increases the likelihood of impaired muscle performance and strength and highlights the need for regular physical activity.

    Older adults who regularly engage in moderate physical activity were significantly less likely to have poor muscle strength and physical performance.


    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6800555/



    Fortunately, vitamin deficiencies and levels of physical activity are modifiable factors.

    The deficiency of vitamin D can be easily compensated by moderate exposure to the sun.










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    Regular physical activity helps stop muscle breakdown

    We have already talked about the vicious circle and the desire of our body to save, which increases with age. This vicious circle must be broken. And this can be done with the help of a regular physical activity.

    Movement is the key to maintaining well-developed muscles. It can be intense walking, water aerobics, fitness, but strength exercises are the best way to save muscles from atrophy.


    Any kind of weightlifting, exercises with weights or at least with dumbbells that give the muscles a real load, most effectively reduce the risks of sarcopenia.


    Besides, do not forget that every year our body is getting worse and worse in building new muscles from amino acids.

    This can be compensated for by increasing your protein intake. It should be at least 25% of your total calories. For the average short woman who normally eats 1500 kcal of food per day, the amount of protein should be about 3.3 oz (95 g).

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