Nutritional interventions in sarcopenia: where do we stand?

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Abstract

Purpose of review

To document recent evidence regarding the role of nutrition as an intervention for sarcopenia.

Recent findings

A review of seven randomized controlled trials (RCTs) on beta-hydroxy-beta-methylbutyrate (HMB) alone on muscle loss in 147 adults showed greater muscle mass gain in the intervention group, but no benefit in muscle strength and physical performance measures. Three other review articles examined nutrition and exercise as combined intervention, and suggest enhancement of benefits of exercise by nutrition supplements (energy, protein, vitamin D). Four trials reported on nutrition alone as intervention, mainly consisting of whey protein, leucine, HMB and vitamin D, with variable results on muscle mass and function. Four trials examined the combined effects of nutrition combined with exercise, showing improvements in muscle mass and function.

Summary

To date, evidence suggests that nutrition intervention alone does have benefit, and certainly enhances the impact of exercise. Nutrients include high-quality protein, leucine, HMB and vitamin D. Long-lasting impact may depend on baseline nutritional status, baseline severity of sarcopenia, and long-lasting adherence to the intervention regime. Future large-scale multicentered RCTs using standardized protocols may provide evidence for formulating guidelines on nutritional intervention for sarcopenia. There is a paucity of data for nursing home populations.

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