health Oct 27, 2021

Proteins are needed for the growth of muscle tissue. When the body’s ability to produce the proteins decreases, individual muscle cells get smaller, decrease in number and shrink.

Muscle mass starts to decline around the age of 40 and the loss of muscle tissue may progress more rapidly when a person reaches their 60s and 70s. This decline of muscle mass is due to the decrease in the size and number of muscle fibers. The fewer and smaller muscle fibers cause the muscles to become weak and delicate, affecting the balance and walk in older adults causing falls and fractures.
Loss of skeletal muscle mass and strength may be associated with physical disability, poor quality of life and death.

Sarcopenia is a syndrome characterized by progressive and generalized loss of skeletal muscle mass and strength, and it is the loss of muscle mass due to the natural aging process.
Sarcopenia can have an impact on a person’s ability to perform daily activities, such as climbing stairs, lifting objects, and walking.
Participation in physical activities may be reduced due to Sarcopenia, which in turn causes even further loss of muscle, and it can adversely affect a person’s quality of life.
The name Sarcopenia is derived from the Greek in which “sarco” means "flesh" and “penia” means "poverty"  and it was first proposed by Rosenberg in 1989,


The potential causative factors of sarcopenia are,
changes in hormones,
immobility, or low physical activity, or chronic disease.
age-related muscle changes,
nutrition and neurodegenerative changes
a loss of motor neurons and muscle fibers,
chronic low-grade inflammation
an impaired regeneration
a decline of testosterone in hypogonadal men
anabolic resistance
Although it is primarily a disease of the older adults, physically inactive people can also lose as much as 3% to 5% of their muscle mass each decade after age 30.
Sarcopenia is seen not only in people who are inactive, but it also occurs in people who stay physically active. The causes may be,
reduction in nerve cells responsible for sending signals from the brain to the muscles involved in movement
lower concentrations of growth hormone, testosterone, and insulin-like growth factor
decrease in the ability to turn protein into energy
not getting enough calories or protein each day to sustain muscle mass
Except for the causes of sarcopenia that are a natural consequence of aging, others can be prevented.


weakness and loss of stamina,
Reduced activity and functional decline
poor balance and increased risk of falling
trouble climbing stairs
decrease in muscle size
sarcopenic obesity -- the loss in muscle mass may cause increase in the body fat leading to obesity

Sarcopenia may have no symptoms until it becomes severe and is often unrecognized.

Risk factors for sarcopenia include age, gender, poor nutrition, eating large amounts of acid producing foods, such as grains and processed foods, eating too few vegetables and fruits, sedentary lifestyle and level of physical activity.


Exercise can help treat sarcopenia.
Resistance training exercise can help the neuromuscular system. By using weights, exercise machines or resistance bands, resistance training or strength training exercise increases muscle size, muscle strength and tolerance,
Hormone therapy increases lean muscle mass.
Medication for treatment of metabolic syndrome (including, insulin-resistance, obesity, and hypertension) can prevent muscle atrophy that can happen when taking certain medicines.


Exercise, Medication, Nutrition, Supplements help manage sarcopenia.
The lifespan and quality of life can be increased by reversing sarcopenia through a healthy diet and regular exercise.
To increase fitness and to reduce disease risk, 30 minutes of daily moderate cardiovascular exercise is needed.
Both resistance and aerobic training will improve overall health and wellness.
Strength training or resistance training exercise can improve muscle size, strength, and tone and also strengthen bones, ligaments, and tendons.
Walking is one of the best aerobic exercises
Older adults should exercise all the major muscle groups of the body, which include the legs, arms, chest, shoulders, back, and abdomen. They should participate in muscle-strengthening activities a minimum of 2 days a week.
They should avoid doing squats with dumbbells or weights, bench press, leg press, long-distance running, abdominal crunches, upright row, deadlift, high-intensity interval training.
Older adults should consult a doctor before starting a new exercise program.

Although medication is not the preferred treatment for sarcopenia, a few drugs can be suggested to prevent muscle atrophy that can happen when taking certain medicines.
Proper nutrition may prevent or delay sarcopenia. Enough protein has to be taken to prevent sarcopenia. (Adults eat 1.0-1.2 grams of protein per kilogram of bodyweight daily).
Seafood, such as trout and salmon, skinless poultry, lean cuts of beef, tofu, lentils, beans, and quinoa are popular protein sources.
Hormone supplements like Testosterone supplements, Growth hormone supplements can be taken along with resistance exercise to increase the muscle mass.
Certain dietary supplements may help prevent sarcopenia. Adequate levels of vitamin D, either through diet or supplements, may help maintain muscle strength.

It is better to consult a doctor, before taking any supplements.


A. Sandhya

M.Sc Zoology

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