Longevity Watch: Muscle and Bone

Improving one’s diet, exercising, taking supplements to fill nutritional gaps, having a healthy social and spiritual life–all the steps we take to become and stay healthy are a part of any quest to live long and prosper.

As we age, the wrinkles, the decrease in bone density and muscle strength, the brain fog and fading eyes are part of the challenges we face, but they don’t have to be completely inevitable.

In these studies, nutrients like probiotics and vitamin D showed promise in helping maintain muscle and bone health. Find out more.

Bone Density

Probiotics, postmenopausal bone density

In 2009, doctors in this study theorized that the gut microbiome could influence bone mass through the immune system, launching a new field of study, osteomicrobiology. In this new, multi-center trial, 243 healthy women with healthy weight, average age 59, and in early menopause, took a placebo or a multi-strain lactobacillus probiotic. At the start, none of the women had severe bone loss, or osteoporosis, and fewer than half had low bone density, known as osteopenia.

After one year, the placebo group had lost 0.72 percent bone mass measured at the lumbar spine while those taking probiotics had no bone loss. Lactobacillus’ protective effect was specific to the lumbar spine, something study doctors would like to explore further.

Reference: The Lancet; 2019, piis 2665-9913, Published Online

Resveratrol reduces hip fracture

Earlier lab studies suggest resveratrol can help preserve bone density and muscle strength, but there are no human studies on resveratrol and bone fracture. In this study, doctors compared 1,070 healthy-weight men and women, average age 71, who had had a hip fracture in the last two weeks with 1,070 similar men and women without hip fracture.

Overall, participants consumed an average of 178.6 mcg of resveratrol per day, and 96.6 percent did not drink red wine, a rich source of resveratrol. Those who got the most resveratrol were 80.2 percent less likely to have had a hip fracture compared to those who got the least. Doctors controlled for differences in gender, body-mass index scores, and other factors, but the resveratrol benefit remained.

Eating grapes reduced chances for hip fracture by 46.7 percent overall, compared to those who did not eat grapes, confirming the link between resveratrol and healthy bones.

Reference: Current Developments in Nutrition; 2019, Vol. 3, Supplement 1, Published Online

Muscle Strength

Vitamin D preserves muscle function

One of the most important factors in living independently longer is maintaining skeletal muscle. Resistance exercise preserves muscle function, and new evidence suggests good vitamin D levels also protect muscle.

In this study, doctors measured vitamin D levels in 4,157 independently living adults, average age 70. Those who were deficient in vitamin D were nearly twice as likely as those with sufficient vitamin D levels to have muscle weakness, and three times as likely to have impaired muscle performance. Doctors defined vitamin D deficiency as levels below 30 nanomoles per liter of blood (nmol/L), or 12 nanograms per milliliter (ng/mL), and sufficiency as at least 50 nmol/L or 20 ng/mL.

Because vitamin D deficiency can be corrected, doctors recommend focusing public health policy on supplementing older populations with vitamin D.

Reference: Clinical Interventions in Aging; October, 2019, 1751-61

Medium-chain triglycerides

In a test of muscle strength, 48 older adults, average age 85, took a long-chain triglyceride placebo, or 6 grams of medium-chain triglycerides (MCT) with or without 1,200 mg of l-leucine plus 800 IU of vitamin D (MCT+LD) per day.

After three months, the MCT and MCT+LD groups saw 48 and 74 percent increases, respectively, in a leg open-and-close test, while the placebo group saw a 12 percent decline. There were similar findings for a saliva swallowing test. Overall, those taking MCT and MCT+LD reported a 7.5 percent increase in Functional Independence Measure scores assessing activities of daily living.

Reference: American Journal of Clinical Nutrition; 2019, Vol. 110, No. 3, 652-65

BetsyHealth Note: This article is for educational purposes only. It is not intended to diagnose, treat, prevent or cure any disease. Consult your healthcare provider before taking a supplement, especially if you have a medical condition or take prescription or over-the-counter medications. For example, many supplements also thin blood. Resveratrol may affect hormone levels and be contraindicated in some breast or prostate issues. Probiotics should be taken several hours away from any antibiotics.

Article copyright 2020 by Natural Insights for Well-Being. All rights reserved. Used with permission.