How vitamin C could help over 50s retain muscle mass

August 26, 2020

Vitamin C could be the key to better muscles in later life - according to new research from the University of East Anglia (UEA).

A study published today shows that older people who eat plenty of vitamin C - commonly found in citrus fruits, berries and vegetables - have the best skeletal muscle mass.

This is important because people tend to lose skeletal muscle mass as they get older - leading to sarcopenia (a condition characterised by loss of skeletal muscle mass and function), frailty and reduced quality of life.

Lead researcher Prof Ailsa Welch, from UEA's Norwich Medical School said: "As people age, they lose skeletal muscle mass and strength.

"People over 50 lose up to one per cent of their skeletal muscle mass each year, and this loss is thought to affect more than 50 million people worldwide."

"It's a big problem, because it can lead to frailty and other poor outcomes such as sarcopenia, physical disability, type-2 diabetes, reduced quality of life and death."

"We know that Vitamin C consumption is linked with skeletal muscle mass. It helps defend the cells and tissues that make up the body from potentially harmful free radical substances. Unopposed these free radicals can contribute to the destruction of muscle, thus speeding up age-related decline."

"But until now, few studies have investigated the importance of Vitamin C intake for older people. We wanted to find out whether people eating more Vitamin C had more muscle mass than other people."

The research team studied data from more than 13,000 people aged between 42-82 years, who are taking part in the EPIC (European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition) Norfolk Study.

They calculated their skeletal muscle mass and analysed their vitamin C intakes from a seven-day food diary. They also examined the amount of vitamin C in their blood.

Dr Richard Hayhoe, also from UEA's Norwich Medical School, said: "We studied a large sample of older Norfolk residents and found that people with the highest amounts of vitamin C in their diet or blood had the greatest estimated skeletal muscle mass, compared to those with the lowest amounts.

"We are very excited by our findings as they suggest that dietary vitamin C is important for muscle health in older men and women and may be useful for preventing age-related muscle loss.

"This is particularly significant as Vitamin C is readily available in fruits and vegetables, or supplements, so improving intake of this vitamin is relatively straightforward.

"We found that nearly 60 per cent of men and 50 per cent of women participants were not consuming as much Vitamin C as they should, according to the European Food Safety Agency recommendations.

"We're not talking about people needing mega-doses. Eating a citrus fruit, such as an orange, each day and having a vegetable side to a meal will be sufficient for most people."
-end-
The research was led by the University of East Anglia, in collaboration with the University of Cambridge and Strangeways Research Laboratory in Cambridge, and developed from a UEA medical student project by Lucy Lewis.

The EPIC-Norfolk study was supported by grant funding from the Medical Research Council and Cancer Research UK.

'Lower dietary and circulating vitamin C in middle and older aged men and women are associated with lower estimated skeletal muscle mass' is published in the Journal of Nutrition on August 27, 2020. Peer reviewed - observational study - humans

University of East Anglia

Related Vegetables Articles from Brightsurf:

One third of UK fruit and vegetables are imported from climate-vulnerable countries
One third of UK fruit and vegetables are imported from climate-vulnerable countries - and this is on the rise.

Eating your vegetables is easier said than done
The landmark EAT-Lancet report on food in the Anthropocene sets ambitious targets.

Research shows that the combined production of fish and vegetables can be profitable
When it comes to future food production, the combined farming of fish and vegetables through aquaponics is currently a hotly debated topic.

Sensitivity to bitter tastes may be why some people eat fewer vegetables
A gene that makes some compounds taste bitter may make it harder for some people to add heart-healthy vegetables to their diet.

Flowering mechanism in Brassica rapa leafy vegetables illuminated
Post graduate students in Kobe University's Graduate School of Agricultural Science have revealed the role of genes in controlling flowering time in the Brassica rapa family.

Offering children a variety of vegetables increases acceptance
Although food preferences are largely learned, dislike is the main reason parents stop offering or serving their children foods like vegetables.

Cooking vegetables: healthier with extra virgin olive oil
Cooking vegetables in the sofrito (sauté) with extra virgin olive oil favours the absorption and release of bioactive compounds of its traditional ingredients (garlic, onion and tomato), according to the study published in the journal Molecules about the role of gastronomy in the health-improving effects of the Mediterranean Diet.

Millions of cardiovascular deaths attributed to not eating enough fruits and vegetables
Preliminary findings from a new study reveal that inadequate fruit and vegetable consumption may account for millions of deaths from heart disease and strokes each year.

Tuck into colourful fruits and vegetables and see the light
A $5.7 billion global medical bill to restore sight for the estimated 45 million people with cataracts could be slashed in half by a diet rich in colourful fruits and vegetables, according to an international study.

Canadians' consumption of fruit and vegetables drops 13 per cent in 11 years
Two surveys taken 11 years apart show a 13-per-cent decrease in the amount of fruit and vegetables being consumed by Canadians, new University of British Columbia research has found.

Read More: Vegetables News and Vegetables Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.