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Milk for Skeletal Muscle Health and Sarcopenia in Older Adults: A Narrative Review

Authors Granic A, Hurst C, Dismore L, Aspray T, Stevenson E, Witham MD, Sayer AA, Robinson S

Received 11 January 2020

Accepted for publication 21 March 2020

Published 20 May 2020 Volume 2020:15 Pages 695—714


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 3

Editor who approved publication: Dr Richard Walker

Antoneta Granic,1,2 Christopher Hurst,1,2,* Lorelle Dismore,3,* Terry Aspray,1,2,4 Emma Stevenson,5,6 Miles D Witham,1,2 Avan A Sayer,1,2 Sian Robinson1,2

1AGE Research Group, Translational and Clinical Research Institute, Faculty of Medical Sciences, Newcastle University, Newcastle Upon Tyne, UK; 2NIHR Newcastle Biomedical Research Centre, Newcastle Upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and Newcastle University, Newcastle Upon Tyne, UK; 3Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, Research and Development, North Tyneside General Hospital, North Shields, UK; 4Newcastle Upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Musculoskeletal Unit, Freeman Hospital, Newcastle Upon Tyne, UK; 5Population Health Sciences Institute, Faculty of Medical Sciences, Newcastle University, Newcastle Upon Tyne, UK; 6Human Nutrition Research Centre, Newcastle University, Newcastle Upon Tyne, UK

*These authors contributed equally to this work

Correspondence: Sian Robinson
NIHR Newcastle Biomedical Research Centre, Newcastle Upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and Newcastle University, Biomedical Research Building, 3rd Floor, Campus for Ageing and Vitality, Newcastle Upon Tyne NE4 5PL, UK
Tel +44 (0) 1912081325
Email [email protected]

Abstract: Skeletal muscle aging manifests as a decline in muscle quantity and quality that accelerates with aging, increasing the risk of sarcopenia. Sarcopenia is characterized by a loss of muscle strength and mass, and contributes to adverse health outcomes in older adults. Intervention studies have shown that sarcopenia may be treated by higher protein intake in combination with resistance exercise (RE). In comparison, less is known about the role of whole protein-containing foods in preventing or treating sarcopenia. Liquid milk contains multiple nutrients and bioactive components that may be beneficial for muscle, including proteins for muscle anabolism that, alone or with RE, may have myoprotective properties. However, there is a lack of evidence about the role of milk and its effects on muscle aging. This narrative review considers evidence from three observational and eight intervention studies that used milk or fortified milk, with or without exercise, as an intervention to promote muscle health and function in older adults (aged 50– 99 years). The observational studies showed no association between higher habitual milk consumption and muscle-related outcomes. The results of intervention studies using fortified milk in relation to elements of sarcopenia were also negative, with further inconclusive results from the studies using a combination of (fortified) milk and exercise. Although milk contains nutrients that may be myoprotective, current evidence does not show beneficial effects of milk on muscle health in older adults. This could be due to high habitual protein intakes (> 1.0 g/kg BW/d) in study participants, differences in the type of milk (low-fat vs whole) and timing of milk consumption, length of interventions, as well as differences in the sarcopenia status of participants in trials. Adequately powered intervention studies of individuals likely to benefit are needed to test the effectiveness of a whole food approach, including milk, for healthy muscle aging.

Keywords: sarcopenia, muscle health, whole foods, milk, myoprotective properties, older adults

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