Supplementing with whey protein, vitamin D, calcium may help the over 70 crowd maintain muscle mass and strength

Could supplementing with whey protein and a selection of vitamins and minerals be the key to staying healthy as you age? New research has shown that taking a daily dose of whey protein, calcium, creatine, vitamin D and fish oil can help bolster muscle mass and strength in senior citizens who are 70 years of age or older.

Aging gracefully is a top priority for many people these days. Worldwide, the anti-aging industry reportedly reached an estimated $250 billion in 2016. But healthy aging isn’t just about how you look on the outside. Keeping what’s on the inside healthy as you grow older is just as important (if not more so). And as researchers from McMaster University have shown in their recently published study, supplementing with whey protein, vitamin D, calcium, creatine and fish oil can help with that — at least when it comes to sarcopenia.

Sarcopenia is a condition characterized by the loss of muscle mass and strength as you age. Though it’s considered a “normal” part of aging, sarcopenia can set you up for an increased risk of falling down, increases your chances of needing care at an assisted living facility and it raises your risk of developing a metabolic disorder.

To sum it up, muscle loss is a significant issue when it comes to healthy aging — and maintaining muscle mass and strength is integral not just to aging healthfully, but for maintaining independence as you age.

As lead scientist Stuart Phillips, a professor in the Department of Kinesiology and part of McMaster’s Institute for Research on Aging explained, “Older people who do little to prevent the progression of sarcopenia drift toward a state where they find activities of daily living, like rising from a chair or ascending stairs very difficult or maybe impossible.”

To conduct their research, Phillips and his cohorts studied two groups of men who were 70 years of age or older. One group was given a supplement featuring calcium, vitamin D, fish oil, creatine and whey protein, while the other group was given a placebo.

For the first six weeks, participants were asked to take their supplement (or placebo supplement) daily. In the second leg of the study, the men were enrolled in a 12-week progressive training regimen, which included resistance and high-intensity interval training. For those 12 weeks, they also continued along with their supplement (or placebo) routine.

In the first six weeks of taking a supplement, participants showed a 700-gram gain in muscle mass. Typically, older adults will lose about that amount of mass in a given year — to build that much mass in just six weeks is quite impressive. The supplement-taking group showed another increase in strength gains when they started their twice-weekly exercise regime, especially when compared to the placebo group.

“Clearly, exercise is a key part of the greatly improved health profile of our subjects, but we are very excited by the enhancements the supplement alone and in combination with exercise was able to give to our participants,” she added further.

There’s no doubt that getting a little extra nutrition as you grow older can be immensely beneficial. For example, recent research has also shown that supplementing with vitamin D can help prevent rheumatoid arthritis. Keeping your body healthy from the inside out is integral to aging healthfully.

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