Natural age-related muscle loss affects 100% of the population. After the age of 40, muscle mass declines at a rate of about 1% per year and can begin impacting quality of life in adults starting around age 60. Left unchecked, the risk of falls increases, recovery after injuries or illness is slower, energy and strength decline, there is loss of independence, and quality of life suffers.
One of the best defenses against age-related muscle loss is to build up muscle reserves. “We should all be using something to stem the problem of muscle loss, because once we notice it, it may be too late,” comments Larry Kolb, president of TSI USA LLC (TSI), the company that produces and markets the branded ingredient myHMB® (Calcium β-Hydroxy-β-methylbutyrate or HMB), a well-proven muscle health ingredient.
A year-long randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study indicates that the combination of HMB and vitamin D3 improved muscle function in older adults, even without exercise. The study was supported by a grant from the U.S. National Institutes of Health and published in The Journals of Gerontology (DOI: 10.1093/gerona/glaa218)..
HMB has long been popular among sport nutrition brands for its impressive strength and recovery benefits. For more than 20 years, however, HMB has also been studied for its muscle health benefits in clinical nutrition and healthy aging applications.
Why exercise and protein intake generally aren’t sufficient
“There is a large population who either know they need exercise to maintain their muscle mass but don’t do it or, they don’t do it to a sufficient level to maintain muscle health,” observes Kolb. “Others, especially among the older population, may be too frail or have other limitations prohibiting exercise.
“It is unrealistic to simply increase dietary protein because as we age, we begin to lose our ability to respond to certain signals such as how our body responds to ingesting protein or to exercise. As a result, we need more protein or exercise to achieve the same muscle growth responses.”
HMB can boost muscle health in older adults, as it uniquely both stimulates protein synthesis and reduces muscle breakdown. Since higher vitamin D3 levels are associated with greater strength and superior muscle function, especially in older adults, the combination with HMB is critical for healthy aging. “With this study, we now understand HMB and Vitamin D3 can have a synergistic effect in older adults, superior to what either can do individually,” said principal investigator John Rathmacher, PhD.
HMB+D improves muscle function in older adults, even without exercise
A previous year-long, placebo-controlled study of HMB found that 70% of those study participants had insufficient vitamin D levels. Researchers performed a retrospective analysis and found that only those who had sufficient Vitamin D3 levels saw an increase in strength with HMB. “That led to the hypothesis that it is important for older adults to have an adequate Vitamin D3 status when supplementing with HMB,” commented Rathmacher.
In the NIH-funded study, 117 healthy adults ages 60 and older were assigned to take HMB + vitamin D3 or a placebo supplement. Researchers measured physical function, muscle strength and body composition at three-month intervals. The results indicated that HMB’s long-term functional benefits are fully realized among older adults when there is sufficient vitamin D3 present:
- Among non-exercisers, participants taking HMB+D experienced greater improvements in physical function and tended to have greater increases in strength than did participants taking the placebo supplement, and they sustained this improvement over one year.
- Exercise was not needed to realize the muscle health benefits of HMB+D. Combining HMB+D and moderate resistance training did not provide any further benefit over either exercise or HMB+D alone. “This indicates that HMB+D may uniquely protect muscle strength and physical function in those who are unable or unwilling to exercise such as older adults who are frail or have age-related muscle loss,” says Rathmacher.
- HMB+D may also help people feel more energetic. “In addition to physical benefits, HMB+D increased ‘high activation’ emotions.”
The proper ratio of these two nutrients may benefit an entire generation
“The most exciting thing about this study is that with HMB+D, there was a significant improvement in muscle function in the non-exercise group specifically. That is very powerful given the percentage of our older adult population who are unable or unwilling to exercise,” concludes Rathmacher. “While the benefits of exercise are much broader than muscle mass or muscle strength, the improvement of physical function is potentially very powerful for the health of this population.”
Kolb adds, “Results of this study indicate that adding vitamin D3 to daily HMB supplementation yields the full benefits of HMB. And older adults who have a higher functional muscle reserve will be more resistant to the numerous quality of life issues associated with age-related muscle loss.”
For additional information visit www.myHMB.com