How to Prevent Sarcopenia or Muscle Loss As You Age

By April 3, 2019December 28th, 2020No Comments
Healthy LivingPreventive Care

What is Sarcopenia?

Sarcopenia is the loss of skeletal muscle mass due to the natural aging process. It is determined by two factors: the initial amount of muscle mass and the rate at which aging decreases muscle mass. From the time of birth, until you turn 30, muscles grow larger and stronger. However, right after the age of 30, there is a gradual decrease in muscle mass.

People who are physically inactive may lose 3% to 5% of their muscle mass each decade after the age of 30, suggests reports. The muscle loss due to aging can be prevented, however, cannot be stopped. Also, sarcopenia speeds up around the age of 75, in some cases, it is observed to speed up as early as 65.

When it comes to prevention, enough cannot be said to highlight the importance of an active lifestyle, not only for the prevention of sarcopenia but for prevention of a multitude of diseases.

Here are a few things you could do to prevent muscle loss as you age:

Physical activity

Exercise, and in particular resistance training is extremely effective for preventing sarcopenia. Resistance training affects the neuromuscular system, protein synthesis, and hormones, which, when not operating normally, work together to cause sarcopenia.

After a program of resistance training is introduced, research shows that motor neuron firing and protein synthesis (both of which are needed in building muscle mass) increase even in the elderly. These changes indicate that it is possible to rebuild muscle strength even at an advanced age.

Aerobic exercise also appears to aid in the fight against sarcopenia. This form of exercise has shown to aid in increasing protein synthesis, an important function in maintaining muscle mass and strength in the aging population.

If you’re deficient in calories, protein or certain vitamins and minerals, you may be at higher risk of muscle loss.


Every muscle in your body is made up of protein. But as you get older, your body requires more protein to build the same amount of muscle, since the body becomes less efficient at processing protein. Getting protein in your diet directly signals your muscle tissue to build and strengthen. As people age, their muscles become more resistant to this signal, so they need to consume more protein to increase muscle growth. Include protein-rich foods like rajma, fish, lean meats, eggs, quinoa, beans, and protein shakes in every meal and snack. Protein is especially important after exercise since physical activity like strength training purposefully damages muscle tissues so they can repair and grow back stronger.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D deficiency is related to sarcopenia, although the reasons why are not entirely understood. Taking vitamin D supplements can increase muscle strength and reduce the risk of falling. These benefits have not been seen in all studies, possibly because some research volunteers may have already been getting enough vitamin D. The best dose of vitamin D for preventing sarcopenia is currently unclear.

Maintaining appropriate blood levels of vitamin D may also aid in maintaining muscle strength and physical performance.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

No matter how old you are, consuming omega-3 fatty acids via seafood or supplements will increase your muscle growth. A study of 45 women found that a daily 2-gram fish oil supplement combined with resistance training increased muscle strength more than resistance training without fish oil. Part of this benefit may be due to the anti-inflammatory benefits of omega-3 fatty acids. However, research has suggested that omega-3s might also signal muscle growth directly.


Creatine is a small protein normally made in the liver. Although your body makes enough to prevent you from becoming deficient, creatine in the diet from meat or as a supplement may benefit your muscle growth. In a study, it was investigated, how taking a daily 5-gram creatine supplement affected 357 adults with an average age of 64. When participants took the creatine, they got more benefits from resistance training compared to when they performed resistance training with no creatine.

Creatine is probably not beneficial for sarcopenia if used alone, without exercise.


In order for exercise training to be effective, proper nutrition must be in place. Adequate nutritional intake plays a major role in preventing sarcopenia. Research has shown that older adults may need more protein per kilogram than their younger counterparts to maintain proper levels that reinforce muscle mass.

Diets rich in acid producing foods (meat and cereal grains) and low in non-acid producing foods (fruits and vegetables) have been shown to have negative effects on muscle mass, hence, there should be a balance of both.

Quit Smoking and Drinking

Studies have found that men and women who were smokers were more likely to have sarcopenia. It’s also been reported that smokers had lower relative appendicular skeletal muscle mass than subjects who never smoked.

Also, drinking too much alcohol over time can weaken the muscles and hence the intake should be taken into consideration. Alcohol abuse appears to affect skeletal muscle severely, promoting its damage and wasting.

While aging is natural, muscle loss doesn’t have to be part of the aging process. Getting the right nutrients such as, protein and vitamin D, along with exercise, can help adults maintain their muscle mass and strength, which will enable them to maintain independence and engage in life’s precious moments. However, even simple exercises like walking can slow your rate of muscle loss. At the end of the day, the most important thing is to get active.



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