Aging is a normal process that affects every system of the body, including the skeletal muscle. Although the process is associated with muscle strength and muscle mass loss, it does not imply that you must have poor health.
Studies reveal that adults above 50 years experience 1-2% muscle loss per year. About 18 million people have been diagnosed with the condition. Another 30 million are believed to be living with the disease but are unaware and undiagnosed.
Currently, there are more remarkable advances in technology that do not only help in the slowing down of the aging process but also repair damages associated with it. The innovation in science and technology has led to a boost in life expectancy and quality of life.
Relationship between Sarcopenia and Aging
Sarcopenia refers to all-related muscle loss. When an individual is born to about 30 years, the muscles grow stronger and increase in size. Beyond age 30, the muscle mass begins to reduce. The syndrome is common among the elderly, and it is associated with numerous complications.
The symptoms of sarcopenia may vary based on the extent of muscle mass loss. The common symptoms include difficulty in climbing stairs, poor balance, loss of endurance, weakness, and reduced muscle size.
To most people, a decline in muscle mass may not be a big concern. However, it may become chronic to limit an individual’s independence, promote weakness, and increase fall risks.
Sarcopenia makes movement difficult and lowers an individual’s quality of life. The syndrome is a product of the several damages happening in the body. Despite its multifactorial nature, studies have revealed that it may be associated with attributes such as:
- Increased inactivity
- A drop in the hormonal level, more so hormones associated with metabolic processes and growth
- A rise in cytokines which are pro-inflammatory mediators
Because several protective roles of the body reduce with aging, the condition is common in geriatrics. In old age, the ability of the body to repair effectively is also slowed. Insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1) is a general health marker, and its drop is associated with massive wear and tear.
Risk Factors for Sarcopenia
Apart from advanced age, there are risks involved in muscle loss. The risk factors include:
- Reduced number of fibers
- Reduced protein intake
- Reduced vitamin D in the body
- Reduced motor units
- Chronic inflammation
Other causes are low levels of estrogen, increased obesity, and low levels of growth hormone. The above risk factors are associated with either poor nutrition or a sedentary lifestyle. Adults tend to eat less, leading to malnutrition.
Role of Growth Hormone in Sarcopenia
The discharge of human growth hormone (HGH) is stimulated by growth hormone-releasing hormone produced due to exercise. It is an anabolic hormone that aids in building and repairing various tissues like muscle and collagen. Low growth hormone levels directly affect normal operations like bathing, dressing, running up, walking, and metabolic processes.
HGH supplements can correct the low levels of the hormone observed in the elderly. In addition, HGH decreases oxidative stress in the skeletal muscles and delays sarcopenia through the activation of IGF-1.
The molecule has proliferative effects on the skeletal muscle stem cells. The treatment boosts muscle strength, prevents excess accumulation of fats, and boosts muscle mass.
The following synthetic growth hormones are effective in the management of sarcopenia:
Role of Testosterone in Muscle Building
Testosterone is also effective in building muscle mass. Testosterone has both anabolic and androgenic effects. It’s the anabolic property responsible for strengthening skeletal muscle fibers and increasing muscle mass. A significant reduction in testosterone levels occurs from age 30.
Even with higher testosterone levels, if an individual is not exercising, there will be no significant improvement in muscle mass. For testosterone to be effective in bodybuilding, it should be accompanied by some workouts.
The effect of testosterone in men is also experienced in females through the release of androgens. Hence, women are more prone to developing sarcopenia than men when the levels of androgens drop. The effect of testosterone in building muscle mass necessitates its use as replacement therapy in managing sarcopenia in both women and men.
It is critical to note that sarcopenia is treatable, preventable, and reversible without medication.