Research on dietary supplements for the elderly is progressing, but we can always use more of it.
Protein and Muscle Mass
A National Institutes of Healthâfunded study published last year looked at the link between higher protein intake in adults over age 50 and lower muscle mass and strength. Examining data from the Framingham Offspring Cohort, researchers narrowed in on the protein intake of men and women with a mean age of 59. They found that, of 2600 subjects, those who consumed more protein-specifically, protein from animal sources-had higher amounts of lean muscle mass in their legs. Those with very high intakes of plant protein, however, did see high levels of quadriceps strength.
These findings are important because seniors over the age of 50 begin losing 1%â2% of muscle mass each year-an age-related condition known as sarcopenia-leading to a higher risk of falls and fractures.
Reference: Sahni S et al., “Higher protein intake is associated with higher lean mass and quadriceps muscle strength in adult men and women,” The Journal of Nutrition, vol. 145, no. 7 (July 2015): 1569-1575
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Collagen and Sarcopenia
A British Journal of Nutrition study on Gelita’s (Sergeant Bluff, IA) collagen peptide ingredient in older men suffering from sarcopenia found that subjects taking a 15-g collagen peptide supplement for three months increased fat-free mass and muscle strength and reduced their fat mass. The subjects (53 men with a mean age of 72) also performed 60-minute resistance-training sessions three times per week. Gelita is now marketing this ingredient as BodyBalance.
At this year’s Natural Products Expo West trade show, Lara Niemann, marketing director, Americas, explained the significance of the study’s findings. “One of the most important outcomes of the study from my perspective is that we saw an increase in power output, which means an increase in strength. So, think about a 70-year-old man, living longer, maybe frustrated because he wants to be able to do the things that he used to do but he can’t. BodyBalance can be a great supplementation in order for him to maintain a certain level of independence, which means quality of life.”
Reference: Zdzieblik D et al., “Collagen peptide supplementation in combination with resistance training improves body composition and increases muscle strength in elderly sarcopenic men: a randomised controlled trial,” British Journal of Nutrition, vol. 114, no. 8 (October 28, 2015): 1237-1245
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Omega-3 and Muscle Mass
Fish-oil omega-3 supplements may also play a role in increasing muscle mass in older adults. A university research study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition last year found that 3.36 g of EPA+DHA omega-3 supplementation daily in adults 60â85 increased subjects’ thigh muscle volume, handgrip strength, and one repetition muscle strength, and increased average isokinetic leg muscle power. The six-month study led researchers to conclude that omega-3 supplementation “should be considered a therapeutic approach for preventing sarcopenia and maintaining physical independence in older adults.”
Reference: Smith GI et al., “Fish oil-derived n-3 PUFA therapy increases muscle mass and function in healthy older adults,” The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, vol. 102, no. 1 (July 2015): 115-122
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Probiotics and GI Health
A 36-subject crossover study published in The Journal of Nutrition examined the effects of Ganeden Biotech’s (Cleveland, OH) Ganeden BC30 Bacillus coagulans probiotic strain on the gastrointestinal profile of healthy seniors aged 65â80. The study found that daily probiotic consumption for one month increased levels of the body’s indigenous stores of the healthy bacteria Faecalibacterium prausnitzii.
Importantly, the study also found that the Ganeden BC30 intervention reduced levels of the inflammation-related cytokine IL-10. At Natural Products Expo West 2016, Ganeden’s senior vice president, Mike Bush, explained the significance of this finding on anti-inflammation: “As people age, their gut bacteria shifts to a more inflammatory state.” Stressing that his company’s study was done in a healthy population, he said, “we wanted to see on an antiaging or on a gut-health-aging basis what happens with BC30. Fortunately, we had good results.”
Reference: Nyangale EP et al. “Bacillus coagulans GBI-30, 6086 modulates Faecalibacterium prausnitzii in older men and women,” The Journal of Nutrition. Published online May 6, 2015.
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Probiotics and Immune Health
As seniors age, their immune systems weaken. A study published in the journal Immunity & Ageing showed that seniors aged 60â74 supplementing with Lesaffre Human Care’s (Marcq-en-Baroeul, France) Bacillus subtilis CU1 probiotic strain saw higher levels of the immunoglobulin IgA. According to the researchers, higher levels of IgA help maintain a beneficial balance of gut microbiota and protect the “gastrointestinal and respiratory tracts against pathogens.”
“These results provide evidence that consumption of B. subtilis CU1 may be a safe and effective prevention strategy to stimulate immune responses and provide long-term support to people at risk of SIgA deficiency, such as the elderly; people suffering from chronic stress/sleep deprivation; professional athletes; etc.,” said Elodie Ruffin, probiotics marketing manager, Lesaffre Human Care, in a press release.
Lefevre M et al., “Probiotic strain Bacillus subtilis CU1 stimulates immune system of elderly during common infectious disease period: a randomized, double-blind placebo-controlled study,” Immunity & Ageing. Published online December 3, 2015.
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Another Study: Probiotics and Immune Health
Publishing in the Journal of Nutritional Science, university researchers found that DuPont Nutrition & Health’s (Kantvik, Finland) Bifidobacterium lactis Bi-07 probiotic strain improved function of the body’s innate immune cells (phagocytes) in elderly subjects. According to researchers, “subsequent statistical analysis showed that consumption of Bi-07 improved the phagocytic activity of monocytesâ¦and granulocytesâ¦” Markus Lehtinen, PhD, a senior scientist for DuPont Nutrition & Health, commented, “Phagocytosis, by which immune cells ‘eat’ bacteria or infected cells, is one of the mechanisms that help to resist infections. Results of this study show that the probiotic Bi-07 may provide health benefits to elderly individuals by increasing the activity of phagocytic cells.”
Reference: Maneerat S et al., “Consumption of Bifidobacterium lactis Bi-07 by healthy elderly adults enhances phagocytic activity of monocytes and granulocytes,” Journal of Nutritional Science. Published online January 2, 2014.
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Pycnogenol and Brain Health
Supplementation with Pycnogenol, a branded French maritime pine bark ingredient, has been shown to improve cognitive function in children as well as college-aged students. The ingredient’s supplier, Horphag Research (Hoboken, NJ), recently announced a new long-term, 77-subject study showing benefits in adults aged 55â70. Published in the Journal of Neurosurgical Sciences, the study found that 12 months of supplementation with 50 mg of Pycnogenol twice daily in this population led to improvements in daily decision-making and memory, as well as improvements in attention span, the ability to deal with people, and the ability to manage finances. Part of this effect may be due to the reductions Pycnogenol achieved in oxidative stress.
Reference: Belcaro G et al., “The COFU3 study. Improvement in cognitive function, attention, mental performance with PycnogenolÂ® in healthy subjects (55â70) with high oxidative stress,” Journal of Neurosurgical Sciences, vol. 59, no. 4 (December 2015): 437-446
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Omega-3s and Brain Health
French researchers at the 8th International Conference on Clinical Trials for Alzheimer’s Disease held in Barcelona Spain last winter reported that omega-3 supplementation may help maintain cognitive health in adults 70 and older with mild cognitive impairment (MCI). As part of the Multidomain Alzheimer’s Preventive Trial (MAPT), scientists looked at the effects of 800 mg/day of omega-3 fatty acid DHA-combined with nutrition counseling, exercise, and cognitive and social stimulation-over the course of three years in 1700 subjects. Subjects taking this “multidomain” approach (supplementation plus the lifestyle changes) saw a statistically significant improvement in brain metabolism compared to the control group.
Read more: http://www.nutritionaloutlook.com/brain-health/omega-3s-may-help-slow-cognitive-decline-older-adults
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Lycopene and Bone Health
A preliminary animal study announced earlier this year in the journal Bone hints that lycopene supplementation may help help reduce ovariectomized-induced loss of bone mass and bone strength in mice with postmenopausal osteoporosis symptoms. The findings are early, but researchers stated that “lycopene treatment in [ovariectomized] rats primarily suppressed bone turnover to restore bone strength and microarchitecture.”
Reference: Ardawi MS et al., “Lycopene treatment against loss of bone mass, microarchitecture and strength in relation to regulatory mechanisms in a postmenopausal osteoporosis model,” Bone, vol. 83 (February 2016): 127-140
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