As humans age, our muscles atrophy and weaken (a condition termed sarcopenia), regardless of exercise regimen or lifestyle (Bross R et al 1999). The muscles become smaller and less elastic, and muscle injuries become more common (Bross R et al 1999; Baumgartner RN et al 1998). The ability to recover from injuries also decreases, as does tolerance for exercise.
Our senior years are a good time to exercise. Exercise by older people improves quality of life. Sarcopenia, even in severe cases, can be reversed through strength training (Aniansson A et al 1981; Frontera WR et al 1992). Exercise has also been shown to control body weight (very important in preventing diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and hypertension) and strengthen bones. It is important for older people to engage in regular, low to moderate exercise rather than strenuous activity (Martini FH 1995).
A number of supplements have been shown to promote strength by supporting muscle function. These include the following:
Carnitine. Carnitine, an amino acid, helps transport fat into mitochondria, where it is metabolized. Exercise capacity is increased among people with arterial disease following carnitine supplementation (Barker GA et al 2001). In addition, studies show that carnitine supplementation increases muscle function and exercise capacity in people with kidney disease (Brass EP et al 1998).
Creatine. Studies show that creatine supplementation effectively increases lean muscle mass and strength (Nissen SL et al 2003; Kreider RB 2003; Gotshalk LA et al 2002). Creatine donates a phosphate molecule to adenosine diphosphate in order to produce more ATP for energy demands. The buildup of lactic acid may also be delayed after creatine supplementation.
Glutamine. Although glutamine is the most abundant amino acid in the body, at times the body cannot produce all the glutamine it needs because of extreme stress caused by surgery, prolonged exercise, or infection (Talbott SM 2003; Workman J 2002; Hendler SS et al 2001; Bassit RA et al 2002).
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* These supplements should be taken in conjunction with a healthy diet and regular exercise program. Results may vary.