Taking essential amino acid called Leucine, could prevent muscle atrophy.  A review by Ralph Manders, Jonathan Little, Scott Forbes and Darren Candow, from the University of Regina, highlighted potential health benefits of the effects of the branched chain amino acid Leucine on aging muscle metabolism. Measures to reduce frailty and promote muscle function are being developed.

Our aging population is faced with progressive loss of muscle function and frailty, which reduces our quality of life and can lead to a loss of independence.

Aging is known to suppress muscle protein synthesis. This is usually not even noticed by the individual because in areas of muscle loss, muscle fibres are replaced with fat. Muscle atrophy also results in an increase in fibrosis, changes in muscle metabolism, oxidative stress, and degeneration of the neuromuscular junction.

Aging bodies also often develop insulin resistance. As well as contributing to Type-2 Diabetes, insulin resistance reduces our ability to create muscle protein.

As our population is aging, there is a great need for new interventions to target both muscle atrophy and insulin resistance.

Studies find that Leucine helps create muscle protein and reverse muscle atrophy

Branched chain amino acids including Leucine, are necessary for maintaining muscle health in older adults. Leucine is not synthesized in our bodies but must be supplied by our diet. It has many functions, including synthesizing protein to construct our muscle tissue. Leucine is found in many foods, including soybeans, beef, and peanuts. It is also widely available as a supplement.

The University of Regina’s review found that Leucine consumption increases muscle protein synthesis, and may help to maintain muscle mass in an aging population. Leucine also improves the quantity and quality of skeletal muscle mitochondria.

Branch chain amino acids like Leucine can be used to complement muscle-strengthening and muscle-building exercises in nutritional approaches to reduce or reverse muscle atrophy.

Sources:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3509512/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sarcopenia