The world population is aging. More seniors are experiencing happy, active golden years, and many of us are caring for our elderly parents. Are there any amino acid supplements to help the elderly enjoy their lives to the fullest?

Birth rates are falling, and life expectancy is rising. In Canada today, there are as many people over the age of 65 as there are under the age of 16. This is great news for us all, as we can look forward to longer lives. But are there specific nutritional concerns we should be aware of?

Seniors are prone to muscle loss and muscle wastage, especially if they are ill or bedridden.  This muscle loss, or sarcopenia, can be debilitating, and if untreated can lead to dependence and a reduction in quality of life.

Muscle loss can be treated with a suitable exercise, healthy diet, and amino acid supplements or other supplements.

Essential amino acid supplements, are very useful for people who have lost their appetites and are not getting adequate nutrition. But can supplements treat muscle loss?

Muscles are built from protein, and protein is built from amino acids. We synthesize some of these amino acids in our bodies—the non-essential amino acids—but we must get many of them from the food we eat. These are known as essential amino acids, and these are often available as supplements.

Essential amino acid supplements – a good choice for muscle loss

Researchers (Elena Volpi, Hisamine Kobayashi, et al) published a report in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition where they examined the amino acids responsible for stimulating muscle protein in elderly people. Healthy elderly subjects were chosen, and given essential amino acid supplements. The amino acids included:

  • histidine
  • isoleucine
  • leucine
  • lysine
  • methionine
  • phenylalanine
  • threonine
  • tryptophan
  • valine

Their muscle production was measured over time.

Results were positive. The essential amino acid supplements stimulated the production of muscle protein. The best results were from an essential amino acid supplement without carbohydrates.