Can a nutritional supplement used for wound-healing also help build muscle in older adults? Researchers at the UAB School of Health Professions Department of Nutrition Sciences are taking a hard look at an over-the-counter supplement that might help seniors avoid age-related muscle loss.
Juven, manufactured by Abbott Laboratories, is a blend of two amino acids - arginine and glutamine - along with a metabolite of the amino acid leucine. Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins. The three in Juven are particularly associated with rebuilding tissue following surgery or treatment of wounds or pressure ulcers.
Gower and co-investigator Amy Ellis, MPH, RD., a doctoral student in the Department of Nutrition Sciences, are looking at the potential for Juven to boost muscle mass and function in seniors between the ages of 65 and 89. People interested in participating in the trial should e-mail email@example.com or call 205-975-9629.
Trial participants will drink the fruit-flavored supplement, or a placebo beverage, twice a day for six months. MRI imaging will be used to see if there is a change in muscle mass. Tests of physical strength and function will help determine if the drink helped improve the overall ability of muscles to function.
"Although we get these amino acids from protein foods like meats and dairy, seniors are unable to absorb or utilize amino acids from protein foods as well as younger people," said Ellis. "This study will help us see if supplementation of certain amino acids can help preserve or build muscle in seniors."
Age-related muscle loss is a significant issue in an aging population, particularly in Western societies in which reduced physical activity and increased life spans are common. Gower says age-related muscle loss is a leading factor in an older person's ability to live independently, and is linked to an increased risk of falls and fractures.Funding for the study came from the National Institute of Complementary and Alternative Medicine and the UAB Center for Aging. Abbott Nutrition provided the supplement.