Whey protein, vitamin D, amino acids and regular exercise decreased inflammation in older adults with sarcopenia and improved quality of life.

Skeletal muscle loss, or sarcopenia, is commonly seen with increasing age. This muscle loss often leads to a decrease in strength, activity and overall quality of life.1 A study published in American Journal of Clinical Nutrition conducted by Mariangela Rondanelli, et al. in 2016 assessed if a combination of dietary supplementation and exercise could reduce incidence of health concerns commonly associated with sarcopenia such as loss of muscle strength and mass, as well as increased inflammation.

This study used  nutritional supplementation that included whey protein, essential amino acids  (leucine, lysine, threonine, tryptophan, valine and non-essential amino acids) and vitamin D. Whey protein and amino acids, especially leucine, can help stimulate muscle synthesis and vitamin D has been shown to increase gene expression for protein synthesis and may enhance muscle strength.1 Along with dietary supplementation the study also had an exercise component that was supervised by a trained professional. Participants exercised for 20-minute sessions, 5 times per week for the complete 12-weekstudy. Each session included warm-up, strengthening exercise, balance and gait training and cool down.

This randomized, double blind, placebo controlled trial enrolled 130 older adults with sarcopenia, including 53 men.  After twelve weeks, in patients randomized to the intervention group, the researchers saw:

  • An increase in skeletal muscle mass (p=0.009), handgrip strength (p= 0.001)
    and insulin growth factor (p=0.002)
  • A reduction in C-reactive protein levels, a biomarker associated with inflammation (p=0.038)

Although further research is needed these results suggest that supplementation with whey protein, essential amino acids, and vitamin D in conjunction with increased physical activity can help alleviate symptoms of sarcopenia while improving muscle mass and strength.

Why is this clinically relevant?

  • Supervised physical activity along with supplementation of whey protein, essential amino acids, and vitamin D may increase muscle mass and strength in sarcopenic elderly as well as increase quality of life by reducing inflammation


Link to abstract

1 Rondanelli M, Klersy C, Terracol G, et al. Whey protein, amino acids, and vitamin D supplementation with physical activity increases fat-free mass and strength, functionality, and quality of life and decreases inflammation in sarcopenic elderly. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2016

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