What Causes Muscle Loss In Old Age And How To Prevent It?

From birth to about 30 years, your muscles grow stronger and bigger. However, after you cross 30, you start to lose muscle mass. The reason is age-associated sarcopenia. Those individuals who are physically inactive and lead a sedentary life lose 3 – 5 % of muscle mass each decade after 30.

Even those who are active do lose some muscle mass.

Causes and factors which lead to muscle loss include:

  • A decrease in nerve cells which are responsible for conveying messages from the brain to the muscles to start movement.
  • A reduced concentration of certain hormones, such as – testosterone, growth hormone and insulin like growth factor.
  • A reduced capacity to convert protein in to energy.
  • If you do not get adequate calories and / or protein every day to maintain the muscle mass.

How To Prevent Muscle Loss As We Age?

  • Your protein intake is the most important factor to take in to account to battle muscle loss. Amino acids in protein are the building blocks of muscle; hence your diet tops the list of things to do.
    Amino acid leucine in particularly is very good at building muscle. Dairy products are superb sources of leucine. Lean meat, fish and soy are also loaded with this amino acid.
  • Research and clinical studies show that you need to get a steady, 30 gram dose of protein at mealtimes; this is ideal for building and maintaining muscle mass. Furthermore, it is vital to remember that more isn’t better. Your body does not have a storeroom for protein; the extra gets stored as fat or eliminated from the body.
  • Vitamin D is required for muscle protein synthesis and also helps battle inflammation, both of which interpret as better muscle strength, power and balance. With age, your body is less able to manufacture vitamin D through sun exposure; also it is difficult to get sufficient through the diet; thus, taking a supplement is advisable. Confer with your health care provider though.
  • Exercise plays a crucial role too. Training, thrice a week is recommended. 1 to 2 short resistance workouts every week enhances muscle mass. It is important to tax your muscles and to vary the workout by mixing up the exercises, number of reps and the weight you use. What’s more, make sure that you eat protein one hour before or right after the session. Resistance training strengthens the neuromuscular system and works on the hormones as well. It improves one’s capacity to change protein to energy in as little as 2 weeks. The intensity, number and frequency of resistance training is crucial for getting the maximum benefit. Discuss with your trainer to develop the best exercise plan.
  • Even though drug therapy is not really preferred for sarcopenia, some medicines are occasionally used. They include:
  1. Urocortin II: Stimulates the release of the adrenocorticotropic from the pituitary. Administered intravenously, this hormone prevents muscle atrophy which is commonly seen when you’re in a cast. On the hand, its use to build muscle mass in humans has not yet been investigated and is not advisable.
  2. Hormone replacement therapy: When the manufacture of hormones in women is on a decline at menopause, hormone replacement therapy helps increase lean body mass, get rid of abdominal fat and ward off against bone loss. Nonetheless, there’s been some debate about using HRT due to an increased risk of cancer.