Muscles: mobility and stability
Our muscles enable us to perform precise movements, maintain balance and posture, and produce heat. To take care of our muscles, which are adaptable throughout our lives, regular, moderate physical training and proper nutrition are essential. Our muscle mass decreases with age and our strength decreases in parallel (1-2% per year from the age of 30 onwards). The decrease in muscle mass has consequences, including a marked increase in the risk of falls and fractures, as well as poor balance and reduced ability to move.
Innovative & efficient combination for our muscles: whey protein + leucine + HBM
The supply of proteins and amino acids is essential for the proper functioning of our muscles in general and especially after sports activities. Current recommendations for adults are 0.8g/kg/day, i.e. 52g of protein for a 65kg person or 64g for someone weighing 80kg. Nevertheless, as we age, our muscle cells become less sensitive to the presence of amino acids which are necessary to synthesise proteins. With age our needs increase, which accentuates the importance of a regular dietary intake of sufficient protein .1 It is therefore often recommended that older people consume more protein: more than 1.2g/kg/day, i.e. 72g of protein for a person weighing 65kg or 96g for a person weighing 80kg. You can find 10g of protein in 300ml of yoghurt, 1.5 eggs, 50g of meat or fish, 100g of tofu, 40g of nuts… Not easy to find sufficient protein in everyday life…
Whey, a protein present in milk (but lactose-free), is considered the best protein supplement for muscle synthesis and could even limit the loss of muscle mass in malnourished people or those suffering from sarcopenia. In fact, with whey, our muscle protein creation is higher than with casein (another protein present in milk, the main raw material for cheese). One of the reasons for this is that whey is better digested and absorbed, and has a higher content of leucine and branched-chain amino acids (BCAA’s). 2,3 Whey is also more effective at synthesizing muscle protein than rice or soy protein.4
However, the proportion of certain amino acids in the protein intake is an important point. Leucine seems to play a particular role in stimulating muscle anabolism, as it is involved in regulating muscle protein synthesis. .5 Indeed, leucine, much more than other branched-chain amino acids (BCAA’s) such as valine or isoleucine, increases the availability of certain compounds necessary for protein production, by influencing their phosphorylation. 6–8 It has been shown that about 7g of whey protein combined with leucine is just as effective as 25g of whey protein alone, especially after physical exertion.9 Similarly, a leucine-enriched dose of essential amino acids can increase muscle protein synthesis by 33% after physical exertion compared to a normal dose of essential amino acids. .10 Thus, experts in the field argue that a high protein intake should not be favoured, but rather the right dosage of leucine for optimal muscle protein synthesis. 9,11 Leading muscle researchers (Churchward-Venne and Devries) therefore do not advocate the highest possible protein intake, but rather the optimal ratio of protein to leucine in order to stimulate muscle synthesis. Devries writes in his muscle study published in 2011: ¨Leucine, Not Total Protein, Content of a Supplement is the Primary Determinant of Muscle Protein Anabolic Responses¨.
HMB (ß-hydroxy-ß-methylbutyrate) is a metabolite of leucine naturally present in muscle cells. Taking HMB as a supplement can increase protein synthesis and muscle mass in athletes and the elderly. 12–14 It has similar effects to leucine. 15 It also helps to preserve muscle mass during a 10-day bed rest 16, as well as in hospitalized patients with certain chronic diseases 17 , as it may reduce muscle atrophy. 15 In addition to increasing muscle strength and volume, HMB may protect against cardiovascular disease.18
Mix of amino acids for muscle synthesis: arginine, valine, isoleucine
Arginine supplementation combined with physical exercise has been linked to increased vasodilation (more blood going to the muscles), increased heart contractility, and increased white blood cell stability.19 Results on improving muscle strength are mixed, but arginine appears to maintain performance, stimulate protein synthesis20 and prevent muscle decline, particularly in postmenopausal women. 21 The structural integrity of muscles also appears to be protected by arginine, limiting muscle fibre injury after exercise. 22,23 Arginine supplementation may also limit fat gain. 24
Valine and isoleucine are part of the branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs), which appear to play a role in stimulating muscle protein synthesis after exercise, but only when combined with a complete, high-quality protein source. 25,26 They may also help limit minor muscle injuries. 27
Cellular energy, essential to our functioning
About 2% of medical consultations are related to fatigue. This can take many forms: good fatigue following a sustained effort, the “laziness” of a teenager, the exhaustion of parents with young children, chronic fatigue, sleep disorders, or fatigue linked to health problems, conflicts, emotional stress or following an accident or an operation, etc. …
How do you define energy, if not the opposite of fatigue? Psychologically, it can be motivation, desires, aspirations that stimulate us. Distributing energy according to one’s priorities is essential to direct one’s life. Biologically, it is the process by which our cells use the nutrients from our food and the air we breathe to create components and activate cellular reactions. This cellular energy is called ATP and certain nutrients can help regenerate it and activate many physiological processes, giving us a physical boost. ATP is necessary for almost every action in each of our cells and therefore for the functioning of all our organs. Moving a muscle, talking, blinking, thinking, digesting… everything uses ATP.
Creatine + citrulline to increase our energy and recovery levels
Creatine is involved in the renewal of ATP, which is the main energy molecule of a cell and allows muscle contraction. Thus, creatine intake will increase our energy levels and improve athletic performance (intense and short) and recovery. 28 Similarly, the addition of citrulline promotes aerobic energy production (with oxygen), displaces ATP to increase protein synthesis, reduces fatigue and promotes recovery. 29,30
The Q10, the multifunctional star of our cells
Coenzyme Q10, also known as ubiquinone, is an essential component of mitochondria (the part of cells that produces energy and regulates oxidative stress and cell death) and is therefore necessary for cell survival. Q10 supplementation for a fortnight (as opposed to a single dose) can reduce inflammation, blood lactate and muscle damage, thanks to its antioxidant properties and the stabilisation of muscle cell membranes. .31,32,33 Q10 supplementation may also increase work capacity by reducing oxidative stress and fatigue. 34 In contrast, a lack of Q10 may be correlated with a decrease in muscle tone, strength and mass, indicating an increased risk of sacropenia. 35
Statins (a drug used in particular for cardiovascular diseases related to high cholesterol) partially block the production of coenzyme Q10, which could explain their side effect causing muscle cramps and pain. 36 Q10 supplementation, especially in combination with an alkaline diet (lots of plants, few cereals and animal products), could limit these effects. 37,38
Minerals (magnesium, zinc, manganese, selenium)
Magnesium plays a vital role in many of our body’s functions, as it is used by more than 300 enzymes.39 It is involved in maintaining muscle function and contraction and in energy production. Magnesium intake can increase strength and physical and muscle performance in athletes and especially in non-athletes and the elderly, particularly by increasing glucose availability and reducing lactate accumulation. 40,41 Magnesium intake also appears to help prevent muscle damage in competitive cyclists. 42
Zinc is also essential for many of our functions and a deficiency of zinc can be problematic, particularly in the regulation of our metabolism and growth. In the muscles, zinc is useful for protein synthesis, collagen bonding, and the structure and function of cell membranes. A lack of zinc can lead to a decrease in the working capacity of the muscles, reduce protein synthesis and can impair recovery from muscle injury. 43,44,45
Manganese is involved in several biological processes: in metabolism, in bone formation, in the synthesis of neurotransmitters and in defence against oxidative stress. It is a strong antioxidant and helps protect the muscle from stressful conditions (e.g. temperature rise, UV rays, scarring, etc.). 46,47 Manganese is necessary for life and for our proper functioning: a deficiency (less than 2mg/d) or an excess (more than 10mg/d) over the long term could induce neurotoxic effects reducing cognitive and muscular performance, or even leading to neurodegenerative or metabolic diseases. .48,49,50
A lack of selenium, especially combined with a deficiency of vitamin E, causes many dysfunctions, especially in the skeletal and cardiac muscles. Indeed, the formation and repair of muscles requires the proper functioning of selenoproteins. A lack of selenium can therefore lead to muscular dystrophy (muscle wasting and weakness). 51 A study in mice has highlighted that selenium supplementation can increase muscle performance by increasing the diffusion of calcium (which enables muscle contraction) and our production of selenoprotein N which enables the muscle to better tolerate the stress of a long contraction. 52 In addition, many studies point out that athletes have increased selenium requirements, particularly to regulate oxidative stress that damages muscles and promote recovery. 53
We take care not to exceed the Recommended Daily Intake (RDI), as a very high over-consumption (more than 4x the RDI) of minerals can lead to undesirable effects, especially digestive ones.
Vitamins B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B8, B9, B12, C, D3, E
Vitamins are molecules that are essential to our functioning and our health and which must be regularly provided by food because our body is not capable of synthesising them (enough). Lack of vitamins alters our organism and leads to the development of diseases. B vitamins are necessary for the functioning of many enzymes, vitamin C is an antioxidant and vitamin D can act as a steroid hormone. Taking B vitamins, including B6, B9, B12, as well as C, D, E, can help improve musculoskeletal health.54 On the contrary, a deficiency in vitamins D, B9 and B12, for example, can contribute to sarcopenia.55
Some studies on certain B vitamins may underline their importance for our muscular health. Vitamin B1 (thiamine) is thought to decrease the concentration of lactate and ammonia in the muscles, highlighting improved carbohydrate metabolism and reducing fatigue after exercise. 56 Vitamin B2 (riboflavin) is known to protect against oxidative stress, and is thought to reduce muscle pain and improve recovery after physical exertion. 57 Vitamin B3 (niacin) is essential for the proper functioning of the mitochondria (the part of the cell that produces energy, regulates oxidative stress and cell death) and therefore for the survival of energy-intensive muscle cells. B3 and B1 may therefore be useful in the treatment of mitochondrial myopathy. 58,59 B9 is essential for our development, and a deficiency can lead to many health problems, including cardiovascular disease and muscle weakness. Taking B9 can support the proper functioning of our cells and muscle strength. 60,55 Vitamin B12, produced by a bacterium found in animal products, is essential for DNA synthesis and cellular energy production. A deficiency can have harmful effects on our vascular, cognitive and skeletal functions and lead to loss of muscle mass and strength, and even sarcopenia. 61,62,63
Muscle contraction can cause oxidative stress, so taking vitamins C and E, powerful antioxidants, may be very helpful in limiting tissue damage and inflammation. 64,65,66,67,68 During a physical training session, they may help to temporarily increase strength, but their effect on weight gain and performance improvement is controversial. 69,70,71 In any case, vitamins C and E are essential for the health of our muscles. For example, vitamin E supplementation may reduce muscle atrophy or sarcopenia or improve remobilisation after immobilisation. 72,73 Similarly, vitamin C supplementation may reduce muscle pain after exercise and limit oxidation. 74
Vitamin D (and especially D3, which is the most similar to that created by our bodies in contact with the sun’s rays) plays an important role for our muscles and bones, for example for calcium homeostasis, but a large part of the population is deficient. Vitamin D deficiency may be associated with oxidative stress in skeletal muscle, which affects the mitochondria and can lead to muscle atrophy. 75 This increases the risk of falls, pain and weakness. 76 In athletes, a lack of vitamin D reduces performance and increases the risk of injury. 77 Supplementation can increase strength, performance and postural stability, particularly in older people. 78,79,80
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The information published on www.swiss-alp-nutrition.ch does not claim to be complete and is not a substitute for individual medical advice or treatment. It cannot be used as an independent diagnosis or to select, apply, modify or discontinue treatment of a disease. In case of health problems, it is recommended to consult a doctor. Any access to www.swiss-alp-nutrition.ch and its contents is at the user’s own risk.
Food supplements should not be used as a substitute for a varied diet. The recommended daily allowance should not be exceeded. In general, food supplements are not suitable for pregnant and nursing women, children and adolescents. Keep out of reach of children.
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