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Nutritional interventions in sarcopenia

where do we stand?

Woo, Jean

Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition & Metabolic Care: January 2018 - Volume 21 - Issue 1 - p 19–23
doi: 10.1097/MCO.0000000000000432
AGEING: BIOLOGY AND NUTRITION: Edited by Jürgen M. Bauer and John E. Morley

Purpose of review To document recent evidence regarding the role of nutrition as an intervention for sarcopenia.

Recent findings A review of seven randomized controlled trials (RCTs) on beta-hydroxy-beta-methylbutyrate (HMB) alone on muscle loss in 147 adults showed greater muscle mass gain in the intervention group, but no benefit in muscle strength and physical performance measures. Three other review articles examined nutrition and exercise as combined intervention, and suggest enhancement of benefits of exercise by nutrition supplements (energy, protein, vitamin D). Four trials reported on nutrition alone as intervention, mainly consisting of whey protein, leucine, HMB and vitamin D, with variable results on muscle mass and function. Four trials examined the combined effects of nutrition combined with exercise, showing improvements in muscle mass and function.

Summary To date, evidence suggests that nutrition intervention alone does have benefit, and certainly enhances the impact of exercise. Nutrients include high-quality protein, leucine, HMB and vitamin D. Long-lasting impact may depend on baseline nutritional status, baseline severity of sarcopenia, and long-lasting adherence to the intervention regime. Future large-scale multicentered RCTs using standardized protocols may provide evidence for formulating guidelines on nutritional intervention for sarcopenia. There is a paucity of data for nursing home populations.

Department of Medicine & Therapeutics, Faculty of Medicine, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, Hong Kong

Correspondence to Prof. Jean Woo, Department of Medicine & Therapeutics, Prince of Wales Hospital, Shatin, N.T., Hong Kong, Hong Kong. Tel: +852 3505 3141; fax: +852 2637 3852; e-mail:

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