Sarcopenia affects 1 in every 4 elderly. A silent killer after age of 40?

By Alpro Pharmacy

May 7, 2024

What is Sarcopenia?

Our bodies start to lose muscle mass, strength and function as we hit age of 40s, known as age-related muscle loss.

The condition worsens as muscle loss speeds up around the age of 70, with a loss of 10-15% of muscle mass each decade. This sarcopenia condition commonly affects the elderly.

“Evidence suggests that 1 in every 4 older adults aged 60 and above is affected by sarcopenia”

How serious is it?

This major factor leads to more frailty, falls, fractures, hospitalisations, surgeries, and even death. Many don’t notice the muscle loss, but it slows metabolism, leading to cholesterol and sugar issues, raising the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and death.

Who is at risk?

Sarcopenia results from factors like aging, inactivity, and poor nutrition. Chronic diseases like diabetes, too low or high BMI, prolonged medication use (especially steroids), and a history of falls also increase the risk.

“In a study of 12 countries, almost two-thirds of older study participants were identified as being at malnourished”

First Key: What to eat?

1. Sufficient intake of protein

Ensure that you have a sufficient intake of protein (1.0-1.2g/kg/day) everyday, as it is an essential nutrient for muscle growth

Prioritise high-quality proteins like chicken, fish, beef, eggs, and milk. But it’s not always practical for all elderly individuals due to factors like reduced appetite, chewing difficulties, and limited food access. In such cases, protein supplements can help meet daily protein needs easily. Just remember how many scoops to take per day.

Individuals with kidney disease should consult a dietitian or doctor before upping protein intake.

The ultimate goal is ensure a balanced diet with enough calories from a variety of foods, instead of overemphasizing only the protein.

2. Taking adequate amount of vitamin D

Insufficient vitamin D affects calcium absorption and leads to muscle weakness and sarcopenia. Get vitamin D from sunlight (10-15 mins, 3-4 times a week, 10 am-3 pm, no sunscreen) or foods like salmon, egg yolk, and fortified items. Food alone may not suffice, especially for the elderly, who may require supplements.

3. Omega-3

Omega-3s, not only known for heart health, also fight inflammation, potentially preventing muscle loss and improving strength in older adults. As omega-3-rich foods like fatty fish, nuts, and seeds are often consumed in small amounts, supplements are recommended for the elderly to gain these benefits.

Second Key: What to exercise?

Focus on resistance exercises as they have been proven to increase muscle protein synthesis, fiber size, strength, and prevent sarcopenia in older adults.

Benefits of Resistance Exercise:

  • Build strength
  • Maintain bone density
  • Enhance balance, coordination, and mobility
  • Reduce fall risk
  • Sustain independence in daily activities.

To combat sarcopenia, focus on multi-joint exercises targeting major muscle groups. Aim for two full-body sessions per week.

For best results, do 10-15 reps per set, 1-2 sets per day, with 2-3 minutes of rest between sets. You can use exercise tools like resistance balls, dumbbells, or even a 500ml water bottle.

Reminder: These exercises are general guidelines. Due to individual differences in physical condition, consult with an experienced Personal Trainer or physiotherapist to create a tailored exercise plan for your needs.

Need More Information? Talk to Our Expert!

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact Alpro ePharmacy or visit the nearest Alpro Pharmacy. Our team, consisting of pharmacists, doctors, physiotherapists, nutritionists, audiologists and dietitians, is ready to assist and provide support.

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