How vitamin C could help over 50s retain muscle mass

in Health by

Vitamin C could be the key to better muscles in later life – according to new research.

A study published (August 2020) by the University of East Anglia (UEA) shows that older people who eat plenty of vitamin C – commonly found in citrus fruits, berries and vegetables – have the best skeletal muscle mass.

This is important because people tend to lose skeletal muscle mass as they get older – leading to sarcopenia (a condition characterized by loss of skeletal muscle mass and function), frailty and reduced quality of life.

As people age, they lose skeletal muscle mass and strength.

People over 50 lose up to one per cent of their skeletal muscle mass each year, and this loss is thought to affect more than 50 million people worldwide.

“It’s a big problem, because it can lead to frailty and other poor outcomes such as sarcopenia, physical disability, type-2 diabetes, reduced quality of life and death,” said Lead researcher Prof Ailsa Welch.

Vitamin C consumption is linked with skeletal muscle mass. It helps defend the cells and tissues that make up the body from potentially harmful free radical substances. Unopposed these free radicals can contribute to the destruction of muscle, thus speeding up age-related decline.

The research team studied data from more than 13,000 people aged between 42-82 years. They calculated their skeletal muscle mass and analyzed their vitamin C intakes from a seven-day food diary. They also examined the amount of vitamin C in their blood.

Researchers found that people with the highest amounts of vitamin C in their diet or blood had the greatest estimated skeletal muscle mass, compared to those with the lowest amounts.

This is particularly significant as Vitamin C is readily available in fruits and vegetables, or supplements, so improving intake of this vitamin is relatively straightforward. This does not include people needing mega-doses. Eating a citrus fruit, such as an orange, each day and having a vegetable side to a meal will be sufficient for most people.

‘Lower dietary and circulating vitamin C in middle and older aged men and women are associated with lower estimated skeletal muscle mass’ is published in the Journal of Nutrition on August 27, 2020. 

For additional information, a copy of the paper can be downloaded from the following Dropbox link: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/mkaku30tgoagw19/AACWJIz7NuUUUtvBchZgakOXa?dl=0

The University of East Anglia (UEA) is a UK Top 25 university and is ranked in the top 50 globally for research citations. Known for its world-leading research and good student experience, it was awarded Gold in the Teaching Excellence Framework and is a leading member of Norwich Research Park, one of Europe’s biggest concentrations of researchers in the fields of environment, health and plant science. www.uea.ac.uk.

Exclusive Content from CARE Magazine