Most are familiar with osteoporosis and its connection to bone loss, but fewer are familiar with sarcopenia. Sarcopenia is age-related loss of muscle strength and functionality. The rate of muscle loss with age appears to be consistent, approximately 1 to 2 percent per year past the age of 50.1 After the age of 70, the loss increases and ranges from 13 to 24 percent per decade.2 Even though sarcopenia is often seen in people who have an inactive lifestyle, it is not limited to people in this category. Other factors such as diet and nutritional inadequacies play an important role in the development of this condition.
A decline in muscle mass may not seem like a big concern, but it should be. Both low muscle mass and poor muscle strength are highly prevalent and important risk factors for disability and increased mortality in individuals as they age.2 Loss of muscle strength is connected to a loss of independence, contributing to falls, fractures and nursing home admissions.3,4 Sarcopenia is also linked to cardiovascular disease (CVD),5 diabetes,6 hormone imbalances,6 obesity7 and how people respond to cancer treatments.8 It also increases the rate of metabolic syndrome and insulin resistance.9
Studies have shown that the optimal dietary protein intake should be between 0.6 to 0.9g/pound/d of protein in older adults with acute or chronic diseases.10 Other than consuming more protein with meals, researchers suggested older adults add other protein-rich foods to their daily diet such as nuts (peanuts 20.5g/half cup, almonds 16.5g/half cup), edamame (8.5g/half cup) and chickpeas (7.25g/half cup). In some cases, adding a powdered protein to a daily routine such as spirulina, whey or other veggie sources can be helpful to provide the body with some of the amino acids needed to produce more muscle.
Learn more about nutrients that address aging conditions in the full version of this article, which appears in INSIDER’s Healthy Aging Digital Magazine.
David Foreman, RPh, is an author and media personality known to consumers nationwide as, “The Herbal Pharmacist.” Well versed on the healing powers of herbs, vitamins and other natural supplements and how they interact with pharmaceutical drugs, Foreman’s career as a registered pharmacist gives him the foundation to now impart his expertise in physiology, pharmacology and integrative medicine to educate consumers on natural health and healing. Foreman is a graduate of the University of South Carolina College of Pharmacy, currently serves on Organic & Natural Health Association’s scientific advisory board and is author of, “4 Pillars of Health: Heart Disease.”
- Hughes V et al. “Longitudinal changes in body composition in older men and women: role of body weight change and physical activity.” The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2002 Aug;76(2):473-8
- Filippin L et al. “Sarcopenia: a predictor of mortality and the need for early diagnosis and intervention.” Aging Clinical and Experimental Research. 2015 Jun;27(3):249-54.
- Gillick M. “Pinning down frailty [Guest Editorial].” The Journals of Gerontology. 2001;56A: M134-M135.
- Visser M et al. “Leg muscle mass and composition in relation to lower extremity performance in men and women aged 70 to 79: the health, aging and body composition study.” Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. 2002;50: 897-90
- Leong D et al. “Prognostic value of grip strength: findings from the Prospective Urban Rural Epidemiology (PURE) study.” Lancet. 2015 Jul 18;386(9990):266-73. doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(14)62000-6.
- Karakelides H, Nair K. “Sarcopenia of aging and its metabolic impact.” Current Topics in Developmental Biology. 2005;68: 123-48.
- Choi K, Sarcopenia and sarcopenic obesity, The Korean Journal of Internal Medicine. 2016 Nov; 31(6): 1054–1060
- Colloca G et al. “Musculoskeletal aging, sarcopenia and cancer.” Journal of Geriatric Oncology. 2018 Dec 11. pii: S1879-4068(18)30039-0. doi: 10.1016/j.jgo.20111.007
- Kim M et al. “Cardiometabolic implication of sarcopenia: The Korea National Health and Nutrition Examination Study (KNHANES) 2008–2010.” IJC Metabolic & Endocrine. 2014;4: 63-69
- Martone A et al. “Exercise and Protein Intake: A Synergistic Approach against Sarcopenia.” BioMed Research International. 2017;2017: 2672435. DOI: 1155/2017/2672435.