Muscle Building Supplements for Seniors
Very few muscle building supplements are developed with seniors in mind. Bodybuilding sites focus on the young and overly muscled. Experts also promote supplements as if they are effective regardless of age. The often ignored issue is the age-related limitations on supplements.
This issue also seems to be the case with the increasingly popular use of branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) as muscle building supplements. However, a key metabolite of leucine, which is one of the BCAAs, is turning out to be an exception. This metabolite, beta-hydroxy-beta-methylbutyrate (HMB) does, indeed, have a comparable effect for building muscle mass in older vs. younger adults.
Key Research on HMB
The following key study is one of the very few that entail senior subjects. It addresses the effects of HMB in 70-year old adults. Here are the reference details of the study:
Vukovich MD, Stubbs NB, Bohlken RM. Body composition in 70-year-old adults responds to dietary beta-hydroxy-beta-methylbutyrate similarly to that of young adults. J Nutr. 2001 Jul;131(7):2049-52.
Fifteen men and sixteen women, average age 70 years, were randomly assigned in a double-blind study to receive either capsules containing a placebo or HMB at 3 grams per day for 8 weeks. At the end of 8 weeks, HMB supplementation tended to increase fat-free mass gain, increased the percentage of body fat loss. CT scans also indicated a greater decrease in the percentage of body fat with HMB supplementation.
The authors concluded that changes in body composition can be accomplished in 70-y-old adults participating in a strength training program, as previously demonstrated in young adults, when HMB is supplemented daily.
Key Age Comparison for Senior Fitness
The authors of this study provided a comparison that is often missing in published studies. It is one thing to say that results have been comparable across several studies. However, these authors provided an analysis of several other studies and showed that results with 70-year-old adults were comparable to studies of subjects in their 20s.
All of the studies in this comparison showed a net weekly increase in percent Fat Free Mass with HMB supplements. The current study shows that 70-year olds might even expect a little bit better than average increase in comparison with the 20-somethings.
That, dear readers, is a rarity regarding aging. And quite a pleasant one for me as I approach that milestone in the next few years.