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Age and amino acids

Maintaining muscle mass and physical unction is fundamental to promoting health and independence with age. It has particular relevance for the prevention of falls, fracture and disability which may have life-threatening implications for elderly individuals. The identification of effective nutritional treatments for age-related sarcopenia (age-dependent loss of muscle mass) represents an ongoing challenge.

We have already discussed here that essential amino acids (EAA) and especially leucine could be of benefit to an aging individual, especially considering a positive balance of costs and benefits of EAA. A recent clinical work published after our LinkedIn summary (see here, in August 2015) has compared the efficacy of EAAs enriched with different amounts of leucine on muscle mass and physical performance in elderly men and women. In line with our assumptions, the authors hypothesized that an increase in the proportion of leucine in a modified mixture of EAAs would be of greater benefit than a standard mixture of EAAs or a placebo. For study itself; see: www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26081485

The authors found that twice-daily supplementation of EAAs containing 20% or 40% leucine improved the key aspects of functional status and at the higher level improved lean tissue mass. Since elderly rarely care about their muscle mass, the improvement in functionality is the key message. Among the tricky points of the study was the app. 79% adherence, indicating that the taste and texture could be a hurdle when implementing leucine-rich EAA diet for elderly people. This point aside, the referenced study further confirmed prophylactic role of EAAs and in particular leucine for the treatment of sarcopenia. Twice-daily supplementation with 0.21 g/kg/day EAAs (with 40% content of leucine) alongside a diet providing adequate protein is the best recommendation nutritional science can right now provideā€¦