Want to Maintain Muscle Mass As You Age? These Vitamins May Help

 What You’ll Learn: As we get older, so do our muscles. With age comes the natural decline of muscle mass. In this blog, you’ll learn about which vitamins help support age-related muscle loss and the lifestyle factors such as nutrition to support your muscle integrity and preserve healthy muscle strength for longevity.

We might not think about it every day, but our muscles are super important. Skeletal muscle, or the type of muscle that connects to your skeleton and helps move your limbs and your body, is responsible for a multitude of different functions. This type of muscle is responsible for movement, maintaining posture, metabolism, energy production, and even cellular health. In fact, our muscle mass is so important that skeletal muscle makes up almost 40% of overall body weight.1

Did you know that after the age of 30, we may lose up to 1% of muscle per year?1 I know, it’s not fair. Fortunately, there are some holistic natural ways we can help support the integrity of our muscle mass as we age. Keep reading to learn about supplements to support muscle weakness and other factors like diet and exercise to help maintain skeletal muscle mass as we get older.

Why Do Our Muscles Weaken as We Age?

30 seems too young to start to lose your skeletal muscle mass at a rate of 1% per year, right?1 Unfortunately, it’s part of the natural aging process and some loss of skeletal muscle mass will happen to us all. The reason why is because as we age, so does our muscle mass. While the rate at which muscle is lost is more prominent in those that lead an inactive lifestyle, the decline in skeletal muscle mass, also known as sarcopenia, is a natural process that eventually occurs in everyone.2

Typically, muscle loss occurs because there is an imbalance between the catabolic and anabolic signals which are responsible for muscle growth. The catabolic response sends a signal to reduce the size of muscle, while an anabolic response sends a signal to build up the muscle. Muscle loss occurs when there is a stronger catabolic signal and response leading to breakdown of muscle and less muscle built.2

Health professionals have found that the loss of muscle mass can also lead to reduced muscle function and strength. Without support, this reduction in muscle mass may result in someone losing up to a third of their muscle by age 80.3 That’s a lot of muscle lost.

Not to mention, loss of muscle mass in the elderly comes with an increased risk of falling, reduced mobility, loss of independence and ability to perform daily functions and other adverse health outcomes in older adults..3 All of these factors can negatively impact your quality of life and result in negative health outcomes. Let’s start chatting about what supplements are good for muscle weakness in the elderly and ways you can help preserve your muscle mass with holistic and attainable interventions.

How to Support Age-Related Muscle Loss

That was a lot of heavy information I just shared with you. Luckily, there’s a way we can work to combat and decrease the rate at which we lose our muscle mass. Research has found that healthy nourishing supplements and nutrition coupled with exercise are some effective ways to help minimize the effects of natural aging and muscle loss.

Supplements to support Age-Related Muscle Loss
There’s a variety of different herbals, vitamins and minerals all aimed to help with muscular function and healthy aging, but how can you be sure which ones to trust? Let me help you with that by narrowing down the massive list of options for you and focus on the key nutrients aimed at supporting cellular energy and musculature.

Amino Acids
Another important class of nutrients to consider are amino acids. Amino Acids are the building blocks of proteins. Without them, we wouldn’t be able to do a number of things that are essential for life including basic body functions like fluid balance, enzyme production, cellular repair and energy metabolism.6,7 The reason why some people may choose to supplement with a complete amino acid profile like our Amino Replete is because it provides amino acid building blocks to support protein synthesis and cognitive function. After all, adequate intake of amino acids is important for the synthesis, repair and metabolism of muscle, cells and tissues.

Nutrients for Mitochondrial Health
When we talk about muscle loss and how to support healthy aging, we need to take a deeper dive into the tissue muscle itself and discuss the function of a unique organelle called the mitochondria that calls our muscle mass its home.

The skeletal muscle is responsible for so many functions, including movement, balance, stability, and even metabolism. There’s no wonder that it requires a lot of energy to function properly. That’s why it pairs well with mitochondria. Mitochondria are primarily responsible for supplying skeletal muscle with the energy it needs. Mitochondria not only power muscle contraction by supplying ATP, they also play a unique role in maintaining cellular health, electrolyte balance and support immune response.8

Healthy and efficient mitochondria are essential for maintaining a good flow of energy in the muscle. Mitochondrial work to maintain their health by replication and by self-regulating to ensure the removal of dysfunctional mitochondria through a process called mitophagy.

You can think of mitophagy as like mitochondria’s quality-control process. The general idea is that through mitophagy, dysfunctional mitochondria that aren’t as efficient at producing energy, are removed and recycled so that the healthy mitochondria can predominate.9 As we age, mitochondria become less efficient at removing and recycling the dysfunctional mitochondria, ultimately impacting muscle health. In fact, the changes in mitochondrial function that occur with aging can contribute to oxidative stress and favor catabolism of the muscle.10,11,12

Not to worry! Supplements can help.

Let me introduce you to the essential B vitamins. B vitamins are well-known to help support mitochondrial function because they serve as a catalyst for mitochondria function.

In particular our Ultra B-Complex with PQQ contains 10 mg of BioPQQ®. PQQ provides B vitamin-like activity with unique antioxidant properties. PQQ supports mitochondrial, neuronal and cellular function.

One of the latest innovations to support mitophagy, muscle function and healthy aging are urolithins. Urolithins are unique natural byproducts of intestinal bacteria that are produced by the microbiome after consuming ellagitannins, which are found in pomegranates, nuts and berries.4,5 Pure Encapsulations® RENUAL provides 250 mg of MitoPure® Urolithin A to enhance cell energy renewal throughout the body, power healthy muscle function and promote healthy aging.

While not directly linked to mitochondrial support, another honorable mention is Liposomal Glutathione. Glutathione is an antioxidant that protects the body from free radicals to support cellular function and homeostasis.13 Like mitochondria, glutathione is found in virtually every cell of the body and plays a critical role in protein synthesis, enzyme function, transport and cellular health.14 Optimal levels of glutathione have been associated with physical health.15 That’s something we all could benefit from!

Lifestyle Factors for Age-Related Muscle Loss

Now that you know about the supplements to support muscle health as you get older, let’s chat about lifestyle factors you can include in your routine to help support your muscle integrity as you age. Two of the most common is nutrition and exercise.

Nutrition for Age-Related Muscle Loss
One key nutrient that’s a popular term thrown around when talking about muscle, is protein. There’s a reason behind its popularity and that’s because it’s important for muscle integrity and growth. Poor protein intake, combined with the potential for decreased absorption and limited intake of other nutrients that are essential for muscle health, put older individuals at risk of limited muscle protein synthesis and ultimately muscle loss.16 In fact, forty percent of older individuals do not meet the recommended 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight intake requirements in their diet.17

Choosing lean, healthy proteins is just one way you can help minimize the rate of age-related muscle decline and help support your muscle integrity. Foods lean in fat and high in essential amino acid proteins include poultry, chicken, fish and lean red meat. Dairy products like milk, eggs and yogurt are other great animal sources of protein.18 Looking for vegan or vegetarian forms of protein? Plant-based proteins like beans, peas, lentils, and even grains like quinoa, couscous, chia seeds and rice are nourishing sources of lean proteins.18

If you’re monitoring your protein intake and you’re trying to decide how much protein is right for your unique needs, it’s important to always work with a healthcare professional as they know your health history best. To give you a frame of reference, the recommended amount of protein in the older patient is 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight and for those ages 65 and older, it’s 1 gram of protein per 1 kilogram of body weight.19 Not sure how to find your weight in kilograms? Here’s a quick tip for you: Just take your weight in pounds and divide by 2.2.

Exercise for Age-Related Muscle Loss
Another lifestyle factor that plays a huge role in muscle integrity and limiting the risk for age-related muscular decline is exercise. Keeping your muscles active is one of the most effective ways to combat age-related muscular decline.20 A healthy combination of aerobic exercise, resistance training and balance training may improve muscle mass and help support a healthy skeletal muscular system as you age.

On the flip side of that, research has found that a lack of exercise may be a leading risk factor for age-related muscle loss.21

Both resistance and aerobic training have been shown to improve the health of skeletal muscle by impacting mitochondrial quality and increasing muscle strength and function in older patients.21-24

The Center for Disease Control recommends the average adult ages 65 years and older to participate in either 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise per week, such as walking, jogging, biking, or swimming. This looks like 30 minutes a day for 5 days a week. Or, 75 minutes of vigorous physical activity per week, this could look like running or high-intensity interval training classes. It’s also recommended to incorporate at least 2 days of strength training or activities to improve balance, such as core training to help build muscular endurance and integrity.25

How to Support Age-Related Muscle Decline as You Get Older

Aging is a natural process that happens to us all. With it comes age-related muscle decline. Now you’re well equipped with the knowledge of what supplements to take to help stop muscle loss and are well-versed about the healthy lifestyle factors like exercise and nutrition that may help you gain back some of your lost muscle integrity. It’s time for you to put this knowledge to the test. Pure Encapsulations offers a variety of different products to help supplement your unique needs and optimize your health. See what might be a right fit for you, today!

  1. Najm A. et al. Int J Mol Sci. 2024 Apr 12;25(8):4300. doi: 10.3390/ijms25084300. PMID: 38673885; PMCID: PMC11050002.
  2. How Can You Avoid Muscle Loss as You Age? (n.d.). Cleveland Clinic. https://health.clevelandclinic.org/how-can-you-avoid-muscle-loss-as-you-age
  3. Ali S. et al. Gerontology. 2014;60(4):294-305. doi: 10.1159/000356760. Epub 2014 Apr 8. PMID: 24731978; PMCID: PMC4112511.
  4. Espín JC, Larrosa M, García-Conesa MT, Tomás-Barberán F. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2013;2013:270418.
  5. Heim KC. In: Antioxidant Polymers: Synthesis, Properties, and Applications. Cirillo G, Iemma F, eds. Taylor and Francis, c. 2012
  6. Flakoll PJ, et al. J Appl Physiol (1985). 2004 Mar;96(3):951-6.
  7. Shimomura Y, et al. J. Nutr. 2006. 136(2); 529- 532.
  8. Burtscher J. et al. Front Public Health. 2024 Jan 10;11:1330131. doi: 10.3389/fpubh.2023.1330131. PMID: 38269379; PMCID: PMC10806989.
  9. Faitg J et al. Calcif Tissue Int. 2024 Jan;114(1):53-59. doi: 10.1007/s00223-023-01145-5. Epub 2023 Nov 5. PMID: 37925671; PMCID: PMC10791945.
  10. Cedikova M et alPhysiol. Res. 2016;65:S519–S531. doi: 10.33549/physiolres.933538.
  11. Prado CM et al. Clin Nutr. 2022 Oct;41(10):2244-2263. doi: 10.1016/j.clnu.2022.07.041. Epub 2022 Aug 7. PMID: 36081299.
  12. Romani M et al. Nutrients. 2022 Jan 22;14(3):483. doi: 10.3390/nu14030483. PMID: 35276842; PMCID: PMC8838610.
  13. Richie JP Jr, et al. Eur J Nutr. 2015 Mar;54(2):251-63.
  14. Wu G, et al. J Nutr. 2004 Mar;134(3):489-92.
  15. Lang CA, et al. J Lab Clin Med. 2002 Dec;140(6):413-7.
  16. Cochet C et al. Nutrients. 2023 Aug 24;15(17):3703. doi: 10.3390/nu15173703. PMID: 37686735; PMCID: PMC10490489.
  17. Morley JE et al. J Am Med Dir Assoc. 2010 Jul;11(6):391-6. doi: 10.1016/j.jamda.2010.04.014. PMID: 20627179; PMCID: PMC4623318.
  18. Proteins | Nutrition.gov. (n.d.). Www.nutrition.gov. https://www.nutrition.gov/topics/whats-food/proteins
  19. Age and Aging. 2023;52:10.1093
  20. Beaudart C, et al.; IOF-ESCEO Sarcopenia Working Group. Osteoporos Int. 2017 Jun;28(6):1817-1833. doi: 10.1007/s00198-017-3980-9. Epub 2017 Mar 1. PMID: 28251287; PMCID: PMC5457808.
  21. Dhillon RJ and Hasni S. Clin Geriatr Med. 2017 Feb;33(1):17-26. doi: 10.1016/j.cger.2016.08.002. PMID: 27886695; PMCID: PMC5127276.
  22. Chen N. et al. Eur Rev Aging Phys Act. 2021 Nov 11;18(1):23. doi: 10.1186/s11556-021-00277-7. PMID: 34763651; PMCID: PMC8588688.
  23. Ni HJ et al. Arch Gerontol Geriatr. 2022 Mar-Apr;99:104605. doi: 10.1016/j.archger.2021.104605. Epub 2021 Dec 2. PMID: 34922244.
  24. Yarasheski KE et al. Am J Physiol. 1999 Jul;277(1):E118-25. doi: 10.1152/ajpendo.1999.277.1.E118. PMID: 10409135.
  25. (2024, April 29). What Counts as Physical Activity for Older Adults. Physical Activity Basics. https://www.cdc.gov/physical-activity-basics/adding-older-adults/what-counts.html