How vitamin C could help over 50s retain muscle mass
In a recent study from the University of East Anglia, researchers found that vitamin C could be the key to better muscles in later life.
They found that older people who eat plenty of vitamin C — commonly found in citrus fruits, berries and vegetables — have the best skeletal muscle mass.
This is important because people tend to lose skeletal muscle mass as they get older — leading to sarcopenia (a condition characterized by loss of skeletal muscle mass and function), frailty and reduced quality of life.
People over 50 lose up to 1% of their skeletal muscle mass each year, and this loss is thought to affect more than 50 million people worldwide.
It can lead to frailty and other poor outcomes such as sarcopenia, physical disability, type-2 diabetes, reduced quality of life and death.
In the study, the team analyzed data from more than 13,000 people aged between 42-82 years.
They calculated their skeletal muscle mass and analyzed their vitamin C intakes from a seven-day food diary. They also examined the amount of vitamin C in their blood.
The team found that people with the highest amounts of vitamin C in their diet or blood had the greatest estimated skeletal muscle mass, compared to those with the lowest amounts.
This suggests that dietary vitamin C is important for muscle health in older men and women and may be useful for preventing age-related muscle loss.
Vitamin C helps defend the cells and tissues that make up the body from potentially harmful free radical substances. Unopposed these free radicals can contribute to the destruction of muscle, thus speeding up age-related decline.
This is particularly important as Vitamin C is readily available in fruits and vegetables, or supplements, so improving intake of this vitamin is relatively straightforward.
The team also found nearly 60% of men and 50% of women participants were not consuming as much Vitamin C as they should, according to the European Food Safety Agency recommendations.
They suggest that eating citrus fruit, such as orange, each day and having a vegetable side to a meal will be sufficient for most people.
If you care about muscle health, please read studies about Muscle cramp? Here is what you should drink and findings of a new way to reverse high blood sugar and muscle loss.
For more information about muscle disease prevention and treatment, please see recent studies about these vegetables essential for your muscle strength and results showing the causes of muscle weakness in older people.
The study is published in The Journal of Nutrition. One author of the study is Prof Ailsa Welch.
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