February 26, 2010
Among the health challenges facing the aging boomers is the progressive loss of muscle mass and strength, known as sarcopenia. Kimberly J. Decker, writing for Food Product Design, examined the issue of sarcopenia, and the role nutrition and exercise can play in halting its progress.
The cause of age-related muscle loss is still unknown, with theories ranging from effects of inflammation, relative protein breakdown, and reduced protein consumption levels leading to amino-acid insensitivity in the muscles. However, weight-bearing resistance exercise and proper nutrition have shown efficacy in addressing muscle loss, with protein one of the critical nutrients.
Protein is one of the primary aspects within total calories that older adults want to be cognizant of, said Matt Pikosky, director of research transfer, Dairy Management Inc. (DMI). Dietary protein, once its digested and broken down into amino acids for use within the body, provides that structural framework for the continuous building and repair of body tissues that takes place on a daily basis. Sufficient protein intake is very important to minimize that muscle loss thats going to happen as we age.
For aging adults looking to fight age-related muscle loss, adequate protein intake may be higher than the recommended 0.8 g/kg body weight/dpossibly as high as 2.5 g/kg of body weight/d. Additionally, selecting a high-quality protein source rich in essential amino acids is important to provide the nutrition the muscles need. Dairy protein, including casein and whey, delivers essential nutrients and amino acids, including leucine, which Pikosky noted plays a key role in initiating protein synthesis in the body.
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