Amino Acids for Healthy Aging

Extending Healthy Life Expectancy with Amino Acids

Amino Acids For Healthy Aging

Amino acids are important for addressing loss of muscle mass as people age.

As we get older, we start to lose muscle mass. This natural process is called sarcopenia, and it affects everyone. If nothing is done about it, sarcopenia can prevent people from performing everyday activities like going out, and greatly increase the risk of falls or broken bones. This can make it harder for people to lead independent lives. Addressing sarcopenia is important for preventing lower quality of life.

Exercise and good nutrition are essential for fighting sarcopenia. It is important people exercise safely and effectively in an appropriate way for their strength and ability. Nutritionists recommend actively eating meals consisting of high-quality proteins, especially animal proteins like meat, fish, eggs, and milk that contain all nine essential amino acids.

Amino acids are also being closely studied as part of a nutritional strategy to combat sarcopenia. Research shows combining exercise with amino acids intake increases muscle mass and strength.

Food proteins are digested into amino acids and then resynthesized into proteins necessary for our bodies

Amino acids: the building blocks of muscle protein

Amino acids make up the proteins in muscle. They include branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) that are especially plentiful in muscle. BCAAs help make muscle protein and prevent its breakdown.

What are Branched-Chain Amino Acids?

Branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) are a group of three amino acids (valine, leucine, and isoleucine).

  • BCAAs are plentiful in muscle proteins.

  • BCAAs stimulate muscle growth in the body.

  • BCAAs provide energy during exercise.

Amino acids that cannot be made by our bodies and must be taken in from food are called essential amino acids. These include BCAAs. Various studies have shown that consuming essential amino acids is effective in preventing sarcopenia.

Changes in muscle mass, strength, and walking speed in older adults taking a leucine-rich essential amino acid formula for an extended period of time

Changes in muscle mass, strength, and walking speed

Borsheim et al., Clin. Nutr., 27, 189-195 (2008)

The rate of muscle protein synthesis is known to decline with age. A study of older adults found that subjects who consumed a formula of nine essential amino acids containing a high percentage of leucine, in combination with exercise, experienced faster rates of muscle synthesis than who consumed whey protein.

In addition, older adults who regularly consumed this leucine-rich essential amino acid formula in combination with light exercise enjoyed increased muscle mass and strength and improved exercise function, including walking faster.

Among BCAAs, leucine is particularly effective in promoting the building of muscle protein. This suggests that as we get older, we should regularly consume high-quality proteins rich in leucine, such as dairy products, meat, fish, and eggs.

Amino acids: helping restore immunity lost due to aging

As we get older, our immune system also weakens, and we are more likely to catch colds and other illnesses. Older people often do not consume enough protein, so for example, even if they receive a flu shot they may not be able to produce enough antibodies to provide adequate protection against influenza.

Percentage of study participants with antibody levels effective for preventing influenza in older people*

Immunity level when taking cystine and theanine

Miyagawa et al., Geriatr. Gerontol. lnt., 8, 243-250, 2008.
*Antibody titers of 40 times or higher have proved effective in preventing influenza among older people of lower nutritional status.

A study was conducted to investigate the effects of the amino acids cystine and theanine on antibody production in nursing home residents who had received a flu shot.

The group that did not take cystine and theanine after being vaccinated showed almost no improvement in antibody production, but the group that took cystine and theanine showed a significant improvement. These results indicate the loss of immunity due to aging can be restored by consuming amino acids.

Amino Acids: Essential to Human Health

Appropriate exercise and regular intake of essential amino acids are important to preventing loss of muscle mass due to aging. Moreover, amino acids help restore immunity in older people.

Now let’s take a closer look at how the amino acids cystine and theanine function in the human immune system.

Find out more

Amino acids make up 20% of the human body. What role do amino acids play in the human body?

What are Amino Acids?

The Ajinomoto Group contributes to greater wellness for people worldwide, unlocking the power of amino acids to resolve the food and health issues associated with dietary habits and aging.

> The Functions of Amino Acids


The Ajinomoto Group is contributing to the well-being of all human beings,
our society and our planet with "AminoScience".

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