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Sarcopenia-What is it? And How can YOU Prevent It?

We’ve all heard of the importance of muscle mass. It can help with everything from weight control, to

immune system support, insulin sensitivity, and the ability to heal faster from an injury. The list could go

on and on. As we get older many of us will begin to lose some of our muscle mass, developing a

condition called sarcopenia. Sarcopenia is an age related, involuntary loss of skeletal muscle mass and

strength. Sarcopenia is not a word many of us have heard, but it’s a condition that currently affects 25-

45% of older adults here in the US. This condition can start as early as our 30’s and generally escalates

as we get older. According to the Mayo clinic, muscles can actually lose 10%-15% of their size and

strength every year after age 50. Symptoms of sarcopenia can range from general weakness, to loss of

stamina, slower walking speed, falling, and difficulty performing daily tasks. Individuals with sarcopenia

have a 58% higher risk of bone fracture, a 1.5-4.6 times higher risk of disability than someone without

the condition, and people who are suffering from sarcopenia are twice as likely to be hospitalized. This

may sound like we’re painting a pretty bleak picture of our “Golden Years”, but alas there is hope!

Continued research on this condition provides us with some insights on how we can proactively avoid

and even reverse this condition.

Strength Training has shown to be one of the best ways to combat the effects of sarcopenia. Studies

show that individuals who participate in progressive resistance training 2-3 times a week are able to

build muscle and offset the effects of sarcopenia. The key to progressive resistance training is to

increase the repetitions, sets, or load amount over time. There are many easy resistance training

options that can be done at home without expensive equipment.

 Standing/Sitting Push-ups - against a wall or counter

 Air Squats

 Step Ups-using any type of steps you have in the house

 Soup Can Shoulder Press or Bicep Curls

 Lying Hip Bridges

The next important factor to avoiding Sarcopenia is protein consumption. Consuming .5 grams of

protein for each pound of our weight is the ideal amount to help our body signal muscle tissue and

growth. Another best practice to help your muscles to repair faster is to have a protein rich snack within

one hour of strength training. Typically, you’ll want to shoot for 10-20 grams of protein. You don’t have

to go out and buy a bunch of expensive bars or shakes, many of these options are already in your


 ½ c of cottage cheese

 2 pieces of string cheese

 6 oz of Greek yogurt

 2 hard boiled eggs

In addition to strength training and protein there are a couple supplements that are also shown to help.

The first is Vitamin D. Vitamin D’s primary function is cell management and while the exact reason is

unknown, it seems to play a role in preventing sarcopenia. Vitamin D is something that many of us are

deficient in, even in summer. Ideally adults should consume 15 micrograms per day. Adults over the

age of 70 should be consuming 20 micrograms per day. This can most easily be done through a Vitamin

D supplement but don’t hesitate to get outside on a sunny day to try to take advantage of the natural

Vitamin D from the sun.

The other supplement that plays a part in fighting off sarcopenia is O-Mega 3 fatty acids. O-mega 3’s

help to lower inflammation levels in the body and may aid in signaling muscle growth. It is

recommended to get 4-4.5 grams a day. Now we all know fish is a good source of O-Mega 3, but if

you’re not a fish lover there are a lot of other sources for you to incorporate this nutrient into your diet.

 Flax seeds

 Chia seeds

 Walnuts

 Edamame

Although sarcopenia is a risk factor for all of us, it does not have to be our destiny. Whether you’re 30

or 80 it’s not too late to start addressing this issue. Just a few small changes to your daily activities can

give you much better chance at more mobility and a better quality of life so you can truly enjoy your

Golden Years.

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