May 21, 2018
472 Preserving Muscle [21 May 2018]
A few weeks ago [#470 Nutritional Support for the Elderly] I mentioned several supplements that help preserve or rebuild muscle in the elderly. Let’s take a closer look at these.
The first is protein powder. Whey works best and is fine for nearly everyone even those with dairy issues. A whey protein will increase muscle, improve liver and kidney function, and increase white blood cell and lymphocyte count (reducing colds and flu infections by half).
Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs) are special amino acids that do not require processing in the liver so can be used without stressing the liver or kidneys. They are particularly beneficial in preventing muscle loss in elderly or ill people and in enhancing healing of injuries including burns. BCAAs are available in tablet or powder form.
We usually think of creatine as a supplement for athletes and body builders but it is also beneficial for maintaining muscle in the elderly. Dr. Philip Rouchotas believes everyone over 70 should be supplementing with creatine daily. It will even prevent muscle atrophy in a limb that is in a cast from a fracture. Creatine is especially beneficial for neurodegenerative diseases. It will slow the progression and improve survival in ALS, and in Parkinson’s will improve upper body strength, improve mood, and most significantly slow the requirement for increasing doses of dopamine. A low dose of 2.5 g per day is perfectly safe for the kidneys.
Exercise, both aerobic and resistance, is essential in building and maintaining muscle, but without the above nutrients will not be nearly as effective. In one study adding whey protein doubled the amount of muscle gain from resisted exercise. Exercise of course has many other benefits which I have previously discussed including cancer prevention [#361] and increased life expectancy [#420].
But building muscle is only half the equation of strength. The other half is energy, which is produced in the mitochondria of our cells. B vitamins (or a good multi), coenzyme Q10, and Acetyl-L-Carnitine will all improve energy in the elderly; see my articles on mitochondria for more on these.
For more information on this or other natural health topics, stop in and talk to Stan; for medical advice consult your licensed health practitioner.