Protein/vitamin product helps seniors in these two vital ways

Loss of strength and mobility are precursors to further problems among the elderly. A protein/multivitamin product showed improvements in both in a study done with malnourished seniors living in care homes in Sri Lanka.

Hank Schultz, Senior Editor

July 10, 2024

3 Min Read

At a Glance

  • Malnourishment can exacerbate problems of aging.
  • Being stronger and more mobile helps seniors remain independent.
  • A protein/multi product was shown to increase their strength and mobility.

A multivitamin supplement with protein helped seniors increase their strength and improve their mobility, lending credence to the notion that proper nutrition for the elderly can increase the healthy portion of a person’s lifespan. 

The new research was published in the journal BMC Geriatrics. It was the work of researchers associated with universities in Sri Lanka and Australia. 

Doubts about multivitamins 

Multivitamins recently came under fire because of a JAMA study that concluded that multivitamin products do not extend lifespans. 

Industry stakeholders responded that what the study didn’t capture was how those products might help people stay healthier longer, even if they might not live longer overall.  After all, having a vibrant life for as long as possible is the goal, rather than extending a life that might include more years of infirmity. 

The research was conducted with elderly subjects 60 years of age and older in Sri Lanka, a country where the usual problems of aging – general frailty, slow walking speed and sarcopenia – can be exacerbated by malnutrition. The researchers used a dietary supplement branded as Entrasol aimed at older consumers that is manufactured by Kalbe Pvt. Ltd. Kalbe is a multinational OTC drug and supplement manufacturer with operations in many countries in the ASEAN region. 

The company funded the research, but the research team maintained it had no input into the study design, data collection or conclusions. 

Entrasol is a powder product that delivers a suite of vitamins and minerals at a mid-level dose (40% to 60% of Daily Value) as well as 12 grams of whey protein and dietary fiber from the prebiotic inulin. 

The researchers recruited 52 subjects living in care homes for their randomized study. The subjects, who were divided into two like-sized groups, all scored as mildly malnourished. 

The subjects in the intervention group ingested 57 grams of Entrasol dissolved in water daily for 12 weeks, while maintaining their regular diets and activity levels in the meantime. Subjects in the control group were given a glass of water instead. 

The subjects’ hand grip strength (HGS) and knee extension strength (KES) were assessed at baseline, at four weeks and again at 12 weeks.   

The subjects’ walking speed was assessed at baseline and again at the conclusion of the study. 

The researchers saw significant improvements in all measurements in the intervention group as compared to their peers who only received water. They noted that the seniors in the intervention group were significantly more active than their peers by the end of the study. 

“A 12-week supplementation with ONS (oral nutritional supplement) leads to significant improvements in KES, HGS, and gait speed among malnourished older adults when compared to controls. . . . Therefore, supplementation with ONS as a bedtime drink was found to be effective in improving the physical activity level and functional status of malnourished older adults,” they concluded. 

The limitations of the study, beyond the fact that it was not blinded and had no placebo arm, lie in the ambiguity of how the ONS exerted its effects. 

“It is important to acknowledge that while our study demonstrated significant improvements in physical functioning parameters, including HGS and KES, as well as increased physical activity levels, we did not directly investigate the underlying mechanisms. Future research may benefit from exploring these mechanisms in greater detail, especially in the context of ageing and malnutrition, to provide a more comprehensive understanding of the factors influencing dietary behaviour [sic] and nutritional outcomes,” the researchers wrote. 

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About the Author(s)

Hank Schultz

Senior Editor, Informa

Hank Schultz has been the senior editor of Natural Products Insider since early 2023. He can be reached at [email protected]

Prior to joining the Informa team, he was an editor at NutraIngredients-USA, a William Reed Business Media publication.

His approach to industry journalism was formed via a long career in the daily newspaper field. After graduating from the University of Wisconsin with degrees in journalism and German, Hank was an editor at the Tempe Daily News in Arizona. He followed that with a long stint working at the Rocky Mountain News, a now defunct daily newspaper in Denver, where he rose to be one of the city editors. The newspaper won two Pulitzer Prizes during his time there.

The changing landscape of the newspaper industry led him to explore other career paths. He began his career in the natural products industry more than a decade ago at New Hope Natural Media, which was then part of Penton and now is an Informa brand. Hank formed friendships and partnerships within the industry that still inform his work to this day, which helps him to bring an insider’s perspective, tempered with an objective journalist’s sensibility, to his in-depth reporting.

Harkening back to his newspaper days, Hank considers the readers to be the primary stakeholders whose needs must be met. Report the news quickly, comprehensively and above all, fairly, and readership and sponsorships will follow.

In 2015, Hank was recognized by the American Herbal Products Association with a Special Award for Journalistic Excellence.

When he’s not reporting on the supplement industry, Hank enjoys many outside pursuits. Those include long distance bicycle touring, mountain climbing, sailing, kayaking and fishing. Less strenuous pastimes include travel, reading (novels and nonfiction), studying German, noodling on a harmonica, sketching and a daily dose of word puzzles in The New York Times.

Last but far from least, Hank is a lifelong fan and part owner of the Green Bay Packers.

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