Researchers estimate that about 10% of both men and women are afflicted with sarcopenia worldwide. This age-related disorder is estimated to occur in 15% of older adults who are otherwise healthy and in 76% of older adults who are hospitalized. However, it is not easy to measure the rate of sarcopenia in any certain population because there are no specific parameters that definitively diagnose the disorder. Furthermore, sarcopenia is found more frequently in certain parts of the world than others, and one’s ethnicity also plays a part in the likelihood of developing it. Gender may also play a role. However, all cases of sarcopenia happen faster with age-regardless of race or sex.
Luckily there are many promising ways to prevent the age-related muscle decline that comes with sarcopenia. Staying active, increasing Vitamin D, and new research into things like klotho proteins all hold promise in preventing the negative side effects associated with sarcopenia.
What Is Sarcopenia?
Sarcopenia is defined as the gradual loss of skeletal muscle tissue that happens to people when they age. This disorder causes a body to lose not only muscle mass but also muscle strength, reducing the ability of patients to function properly. It is one of the most common reasons for loss of mobility in elderly people and often leads to a significant decline in quality of life. Loss of mobility can also lead to falls and fractured bones. Furthermore, sarcopenia can cause confusion, depression and even decrease one’s lifespan. Sarcopenia is often multimorbidity, which means that it happens alongside other chronic diseases. It is often found in patients with cardiovascular disease, dementia, and obesity.
What Is the Relationship Between Age and Sarcopenia?
Sarcopenia is considered an age-related disorder, and it becomes much more common once someone reaches 50 years of age. It often becomes much more accelerated when people reach the age of 75. Although people naturally lose muscle with age, there are other causes that play a part in the disorder.
Nerve cells are the cells in the body that send messages to and from the brain. If there is a reduction in nerve cells, any messages sent from the brain to the muscles to prompt movement become less efficient, and this may cause muscle function to decrease as well as a result in the loss of mass. Other factors that may play a role in developing sarcopenia include the decline of hormones such as testosterone and growth hormones that inevitably come with aging, the body’s reduced ability to transform protein into energy, insufficient intake of protein and calories, and lack of physical activity.
How To Prevent Sarcopenia
There is no way to prevent all muscle loss as one gets older. However, there are ways to treat this loss and minimize the effects of this disorder.
- Stay Active – One of the most effective ways to treat sarcopenia is resistance and strength training. This type of training is known to help keep nerve cells more responsive and increase hormone production. In some instances, exercise can reverse sarcopenia.
- Increase Vitamin D – Certain vitamins and proteins may aid in preventing and treating sarcopenia. Research is suggesting that a Vitamin D deficiency increases the risk of the disorder. Vitamin D comes from ultraviolet rays from the sun, and people living in climates that get less sunlight may benefit from Vitamin D supplements to help combat muscle loss. However, new research even suggests that those living in sunny climates may also benefit from Vitamin D supplements.
- Adjust Protein Intake – A diet that includes about 25-30 grams of protein can help prevent muscle loss. Certain proteins are showing especially promising results in combating aging and the muscle loss that comes with it. For example, the klotho protein is being rigorously studied for its anti-aging effects. This protein is produced mainly in the kidneys, and conditions affecting the kidneys, such as kidney neuropathy, can reduce the production of the klotho. Reintroducing it to the body has shown promising results in anti-aging treatment.