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Optimizing Muscle Mass Throughout Life

Skeletal muscle plays a key role in overall health. It contributes not only to physical strength, but also to the utilization and storage of macronutrients.

Adequate intake of dietary proteins is essential in maintaining health and achieving an optimal amount of muscle mass. The current protein recommendations are set to reflect the minimum amount of dietary protein needed to meet indispensable amino acid requirements and prevent nitrogen loss in nearly the entire (97-98%) healthy population. But do these amounts cover all factors affecting metabolic needs such as aging, exercise regime, or illness? And what factors other than quantity may be considered regarding dietary recommendations when it comes to optimizing muscle mass throughout life?

Burd and colleagues have attempted to address these questions in their recent review published in the Journal Frontiers in Nutrition (click here). The authors examined the approaches and challenges in accurately assessing not only protein quantity, but also protein quality. Since proteins are usually consumed as whole foods rather than in their isolated form, Burd et al. discussed the importance of considering the impact of food matrix on nutrient digestion and absorption. While understanding the roles that single nutrients have on muscle protein synthesis is necessary in developing dietary recommendations, other factors such as exercise and eating patterns must also be taken into consideration. Since protein needs change throughout life to support performance goals or periods of illness, adaptability when it comes to protein recommendations might just be the key to achieving optimal protein intakes at all ages.

Reference: Burd NA, McKenna CF, Salvador AF, Paulussen KJM, Moore DR. Dietary protein quantity, quality and exercise are key to healthy living: a muscle-centric perspective across the lifespan. Front Nutr 2019; 6:83.

To learn more about protein requirements in the elderly, click here

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Disclaimer: Information discussed in this blog is based on the above-mentioned published research article and represents the thoughts, views and opinions of the authors of the article.