Sarcopenia is the loss of skeletal muscle mass due to aging. We all age and we all lose muscle mass, but can that be prevented or even slowed?
After middle age, adults lose an average of 3% of their muscle strength per year, which in turn can and will limit their ability to perform many routine activities such as bathing, cleaning their home, grocery shopping and even walking. When aging adults lose the ability to small minute adjustments in balance with small and large skeletal muscles, they lose the ability to walk or sometimes stand upright without falling. In essence, this skeletal muscle loss can rob an elderly adult of their independence.
Sarcopenia unfortunately also shortens the life expectancy of those it affects. It’s caused by an imbalance between signals for muscle cell growth and signals for the teardown of old muscle. However, during aging, the body becomes resistant to normal growth signals, and this can tip the balance toward muscle loss (a.k.a. catabolism).
What Accelerates Muscle Loss?
- With aging comes HORMONE LOSS and specifically Estradiol loss (in men and women) due to aging is the number one cause of Sarcopenia. Additionally, because Testosterone is needed to build and maintain lean muscle, both men and women are at a greater risk for Sarcopenia as they get older and naturally (or otherwise) lose the hormone. Progesterone (mostly in women) is responsible for maintaining strong bones to prevent Osteoporosis as well.
- An Unbalanced Diet accelerates muscle loss. As we age, our diets tend to shift towards less protein and less calories due to factors such as tooth sensitivity and tooth loss, decreased sense of smell and taste, and loss of the energy needed to prepare nutritious meals.
- Illness and Injury send signals to the body to tear down, then rebuild the damaged cells. With Chronic or Long Term Inflammation, muscles are sent messages to tear down muscle cells but the body no longer has all it needs to heal or replace what was lost, resulting in more muscle loss. A study of 11,249 older adults found that blood levels of C-reactive protein (an indicator of inflammation), strongly predicted sarcopenia.
- Severe Stress (examples are Chronic Liver or Kidney Disease, Chronic Heart Failure, Cancer and Cancer Treatments).Sarcopenia, with it’s loss of muscle mass and muscle strength, becomes more common with age (and the concomitant hormone losses due to aging) and can decrease lifespan and quality of life. Now that you know you may have a sayso in whether or not you develop this potentially life-threatening condition, are you interested in learning how we can help you reduce your risk of Sarcopenia? We can order specific lab tests to assess your personal level of all hormones and give you concrete (but flexible) options for ways to optimize your health and reduce your risk of Sarcopenia (and many, many other diseases related to aging).