IOF review finds protein, vitamin D play integral roles in securing muscle health


A new review published by the International Osteoporosis Foundation (IOF) Nutrition Working Group has identified certain nutritional elements that take part in the lessening of muscle mass as well as nutritional components that work to maintain muscle mass.

Determined to establish more definition for the relationship between sarcopenia and nutrition, the reviewers observed the effects of protein, acid-base balance, vitamin D/calcium and other minor nutrients, such as B vitamins, in correspondence to the condition. 

“The most obvious intervention against sarcopenia is exercise in the form of resistance training,” said Jean-Philippe Bonjour, PhD, co-author and professor of medicine at the Service of Bone Diseases, University of Geneva, in a news release. “However, adequate nutritional intake and an optimal dietary acid-base balance are also very important elements of any strategy to preserve muscle mass and strength during ageing.”

The results of the investigation were listed by the IOF as follows:

  • Protein intake plays an integral part in muscle health. The authors propose an intake of 1.0–1.2 g/kg of body weight per day as optimal for skeletal muscle and bone health in elderly people without severely impaired renal function.
  • As many studies indicate a role for vitamin D in the development and preservation of muscle mass and function, adequate vitamin D should be ensured through exposure to sunlight and/or supplementation if required. Vitamin D supplementation in seniors, and especially in institutionalized elderly, is recommended for optimal musculoskeletal health.
  • Excess intake of acid-producing nutrients (meat and cereal grains) in combination with low intake of alkalizing fruits and vegetables may have negative effects on musculoskeletal health. Modifying the diet to include more fruits and vegetables is likely to benefit both bones and muscles.
  • Emerging evidence also suggests that vitamin B12 and/or folic acid play a role in improving muscle function and strength.

Analysts also hinted at the possible benefit of hormone therapy when treating sarcopenia, albeit less extensively; more study was called for regarding the possible employ of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds.

“Strategies to reduce the numbers of falls and fractures within our aging populations must include measures to prevent sarcopenia,” concluded Ambrish Mithal, MD, co-author and Chair and Head of Endocrinology and Diabetes division at Medanta. “At present, the available evidence suggests that combining resistance training with optimal nutritional status has a synergistic affect in preventing and treating sarcopenia.”