Preventing Sarcopenia: Dairy Protein and Muscle Mass Maintenance in the Elderly
Preventing Sarcopenia: Dairy protein and muscle mass maintenance in the elderly
Sarcopenia is defined as the age-related loss of skeletal muscle mass and strength. It is accelerated by ageing, disease, inactivity and malnutrition, all factors that affect a growing elderly population worldwide. An increasing body of evidence suggests that, when combined with exercise, the intake of milk and dairy products can support the maintenance of lean muscle mass in the elderly. The effect is likely due to the specific protein and amino acid profile of dairy. Although the small number of studies and heterogeneous study designs complicate definitive interpretation of the effect of nutritional intervention, the review highlights pertinent findings and describes them in context of possible underlying mechanisms to guide the health professional when advising elderly clients. It is concluded that the anabolic effect of milk may be an effective, practical and cost-effective way to promote healthy muscle function and sustained functional independence among the elderly.