Leucine helps maintain muscle mass as we age
Leucine and the increase of protein synthesis – maintaining muscle mass in the ageing process
As a part of the ageing process, we lose muscle mass. This is true for all of us, from the sedentary to the elite athlete. This natural process is known as sarcopenia. Exercise, especially weight resistance exercise, helps to slow down this muscular degeneration.
Another way to maintain muscle mass is the addition of supplemental Leucine to the diet. The British Journal of Nutrition has published a meta analysis review suggesting that Leucine supplementation could significantly increase muscle protein synthesis in the elderly, thus being a tool in the prevention of sarcopenia - especially in ageing populations.
9 randomised control trials were reviewed, with several outcomes measured – the primary outcome being protein synthesis and lean body and leg lean mass secondary outcome measured. It was discovered that the protein synthesis was substantially increased in the subjects taking oral Leucine, however, no difference was found in the secondary outcomes of lean body and lean leg mass. The researchers indicated that long term or acute oral administration of Leucine was required to achieve these results.
So Leucine may be a particularly beneficial supplement for people who wish to maintaining muscle mass as they age, especially so for athletes, body builders and other sports people, especially as they age.
Zhe-rong Xu, Zhong-ju Tan, Qin Zhang, Qi-feng Gui and Yun-mei Yang (2015). The effectiveness of leucine on muscle protein synthesis, lean body mass and leg lean mass accretion in older people: a systematic review and meta-analysis. British Journal of Nutrition, 113, pp 25-34. doi:10.1017/S0007114514002475.