Degeneration (atrophy) of skeletal muscles is very common, but most physicians have no idea what to do about it.
Age-related loss of muscle is most likely caused by inflammation, which increases with aging. In addition, obesity and diabetes both accelerate muscle loss, because both are inflammatory.
Fortunately, a great deal of new research is discovering that natural compounds can not only prevent age-related muscle loss, but even reverse it.
For instance, fruit from the Schisandra chinensis plant (also called magnolia vine) has been shown to prevent age-related muscle atrophy and improve muscle strength and energy production in aged test animals.
Other compounds that have demonstrated this benefit include quercetin, curcumin, and resveratrol, especially when they are used in combination. Resveratrol has been shown to improve muscle strength and muscle diameter in older men.
Quercetin has also been shown to protect muscles from inflammation and atrophy associated with obesity.
These compounds work much better in conjunction with regular exercise, especially resistance exercises. In fact, exercise stimulates the antioxidant network, thus protecting the muscles against damage.
One interesting finding showed that elderly men who take omega-3 oils increase protein synthesis in their muscles, increase mitochondrial function, and enhance muscle response to exercises.
DHA has also been shown to preserve muscle mass under conditions that cause muscle atrophy.
Other studies indicate that the EPA component of omega-3 oils improves muscle protein quality and mitochondrial energy production in aging muscles — benefits not seen using DHA alone. This indicates that using a complete omega-3 oil, such as Carlson’s Norwegian oil, would be more effective against muscle loss.
Depletion of L-carnitine is associated with fatigue, muscle weakness, and muscle atrophy. Supplementing with L-carnitine can relieve these symptoms. The compound has also been shown to prevent muscle loss in cancer patients (a condition called cancer cachexia).
One study examined the nutritional intake of older men with age-related muscle loss (sarcopenia) versus men of the same age without muscle atrophy. The researchers found that the former had significantly lower intakes of omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin B6, folic acid, vitamin E, and magnesium.
A group of organic compounds called branchedchain amino acids — including leucine, isoleucine, and valine — can also stimulate muscle building. In studies, aged mice that exercised while being given leucine significantly improved muscle restoration and prevention of muscle atrophy. The benefit of branched-chain amino acids has also been shown in patients with liver disease, a condition that causes severe muscle loss. Branched-chain amino acids can be purchased as a supplement.
© 2021 NewsmaxHealth. All rights reserved.