Let’s face it, getting old sucks! Hell I’m only 27 and sometimes I feel old. You get injured more easily, have less energy, and your metabolism slows down. Furthermore, metabolically speaking you become less insulin sensitive, less able to tolerate carbohydrates, and you also become less sensitive to amino acids. Several studies have demonstrated that elderly people require a greater amount of amino acids to maximize the anabolic response to a meal as compared to young people (1,2).
There seems to be some good news however! A recent study by Marzani et al. demonstrated that the defective anabolic response to a meal could be restored in elderly people taking an antioxidant mixture containing rutin, vitamin E, vitamin A, zinc, and selenium (3). Not only is this a big deal for helping to maintain muscle and maximize anabolism, but anti-oxidants have also been shown to increase insulin sensitivity (4). Therefore, anti-oxidants may have multi-faceted uses in preventing metabolic dysfunction associated with aging.

Not only does this research point out the importance of proper redox status, it also points to the need to address protein requirements across various demographics. These studies clearly show a difference in the effects of protein between young and old, and yet the recommendations for protein are the same for young and elderly even though there is ample evidence that the current recommendations are insufficient to prevent muscle loss associated with aging. I think it’s time for the people who make dietary recommendations to realize that metabolism is complex enough that one-size fits all recommendations no longer work, and that they will need to come up with more detailed recommendations for various demographics.


Cuthbertson D, Smith K, Babraj J, Leese G, Waddell T, Atherton P, Wackerhage H, Taylor PM, Rennie MJ. Anabolic signaling deficits underlie amino acid resistance of wasting, aging muscle. FASEB J. 2005 Mar;19(3):422-4. Epub 2004 Dec 13.

2. Katsanos CS, Kobayashi H, Sheffield-Moore M, Aarsland A, Wolfe RR. A high proportion of leucine is required for optimal stimulation of the rate of muscle protein synthesis by essential amino acids in the elderly. Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab. 2006 Aug;291(2):E381-7.

3. Marzani B, Balage M, Vénien A, Astruc T, Papet I, Dardevet D, Mosoni L. Antioxidant supplementation restores defective leucine stimulation of protein synthesis in skeletal muscle from old rats. J Nutr. 2008 Nov;138(11):2205-11


4. Lee WJ, Song KH, Koh EH, Won JC, Kim HS, Park HS, Kim MS, Kim SW, Lee KU, Park JY. Alpha-lipoic acid increases insulin sensitivity by activating AMPK in skeletal muscle.

 Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2005 Jul 8;332(3):885-91.

  1. Will Brink 15 years ago

    Good stuff Layne. Low grade inflammation is often part of aging – for reasons both known and reasons to yet be fully understood – which also effects redox status, so it’s clear our anti oxidant needs at one age are not the same at another age, nor the same for two people of the same age!

  2. imre 15 years ago

    Hi Lane, thank you for infos. I read somewhere that in older age also creatine supplementation is very important for anabolism. It was a surprising big difference between taking only proteins, or taking them with creatine.
    I know this is a blog, not a forum, but if you read, please comment(shortly). Will wrote for recommendations that : “nor the same for two people of the same age!”. Very true, and thats the problem. So, my question is, does the science today have a reasonable evaluation method for prescribing supplementation, or who needs which supplement in what quantity? Or only experimenting and experience is giving the answer?
    Maybe it was a stupid question :), but as I know there are only some general rules, and it will not stop the tones of wrong supplement prescription. But it is not a surprise, even medical science is treating almost everyone equaly. That is the real reason why we need knowledgable guys with experience to guide us.

  3. Will Brink 15 years ago

    Imre, read my article on the Brinkzone regarding sarcopenia. You will find it in the articles section of the site. That covers everything you need to know about age related loss of muscle mass. Good luck.

  4. jharvat 15 years ago

    Guys, I’m 53 now and trying to fight getting old with every weapon at my disposal. By all means, keep the info coming!

  5. dennis 15 years ago

    I am going on 64 still have a rugged work out, trying to stay as young as I can, keep up the good work

  6. Chris 15 years ago

    hey Just wait til your 50…. hehehe.
    I’m still trying to play Hockey at my age and with all those young bucks trying to bolster their fragile egos it’s all I can do just to not laugh! It does have it’s toll on your knees after all these years but I still love the sport!

  7. Amy 15 years ago


  8. dermacai 15 years ago

    Interesting article. I really liked it. May I get your e-mail , so I can tell you a few things?

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