Nutritional approach to sarcopenia

E. Serafini, E. Marzetti, R. Calvani, A. Picca, M. Tosato, R. Bernabei, F. Landi

Fondazione Policlinico Universitario “Agostino Gemelli” IRCSS, Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Rome, Italy

To maintain a good balance of skeletal muscle mass, it is important to consume high amount of proteins and specific amino acids. In fact, the main nutritional stimulus for protein synthesis is represented by amino acids derived from food protein; in particular, leucine is the main dietary regulator of muscle protein anabolism. It is also important to select the quality of proteins taken up with the diet. Proteins show specific absorption rates based on amino acid composition and are distinguished into “fast” or “slow” absorption proteins. Research has shown that proteins, essential amino acids, leucine, hydroxymethylbutyrate (HMB) and vitamin D play a role in the metabolism of skeletal muscle and are valid nutritional supplements. Being sarcopenia a complex geriatric syndrome, the most effective approach for its prevention and management is represented by multimodal interventions that mainly include physical exercise and nutritional intervention. The important role of nutrition in both prevention and management of sarcopenia is proven by the remarkable evidence linking nutrition with muscle mass and function. Therefore, the best strategy to prevent and treat sarcopenia in older people is to combine a specific exercise protocol and adequate amino acid intake, as expected in the multi-center European clinical trail “Sarcopenia and Physics fRailty IN elderly: multi-component treatment strategies” (SPRINTT).

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