LOS ANGELES, July 18 (Xinhua) -- When taken on a regular basis, a combination of whey protein supplements and other ingredients, aren't just for gym buffs, in a ready-to-drink formula may greatly improve the physical strength of older people, according to a study, published Tuesday in the journal PLOS ONE.
In previous studies, a number of isolated nutritional ingredients have been shown to fight sarcopenia, the deterioration of muscle mass and strength that is a normal part of aging, which can increase the risk for falls, metabolic disorders and the need for assisted living, say researchers.
However, this is the first time such ingredients, which include whey protein, creatine, vitamin D, calcium and fish oil, have been combined and tested for this purpose.
"Older people who do little to prevent the progression of sarcopenia drift toward a state where they find activities of daily living, like rising from a chair or ascending stairs very difficult or maybe impossible," lead scientist Stuart Phillips, professor in the Department of Kinesiology and member of McMaster's Institute for Research on Aging, said in a press release.
In the study, comes at a time when demographic trends lean toward older Canadians as the largest percentage of our population, researchers recruited two groups of men aged 70 and older. One group took a protein-based, multi-ingredient nutritional supplement for six weeks without an exercise regimen, while the other group took a placebo. The objective was to evaluate whether daily consumption would result in gains in strength and lean body mass.
During these six weeks, the supplement resulted in 700 grams of gains in lean body mass - the same amount of muscle these men would normally have lost in a year, according to the study, supported by the Labarge Optimal Aging Initiative within the McMaster Institute for Research on Aging.
Participants then continued to take the supplement (and placebo) while also undertaking a 12-week progressive exercise training program consisting of resistance and high-intensity interval training.
The findings showed that when combined with exercise twice weekly, subjects noticed greater strength gains - especially when compared with their placebo taking counterparts, researchers say.
"I know many think older persons can't do that type of exercise, but that's simply untrue," Gianni Parise, scientific co-lead on the study.
The results were more impressive than the researchers expected. The findings showed improvements in deteriorating muscle health and overall strength for participants both before and after the exercise regimen.
"Clearly, exercise is a key part of the greatly improved health profile of our subjects," says Bell, "but we are very excited by the enhancements the supplement alone and in combination with exercise was able to give to our participants."
Next, according to a news release, researchers hope to include older women and different populations that can benefit from a supplement aimed at improving muscle health.