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JPEN J Parenter Enteral Nutr. 2009 Jan-Feb;33(1):71-82. doi: 10.1177/0148607108322403.

Year-long changes in protein metabolism in elderly men and women supplemented with a nutrition cocktail of beta-hydroxy-beta-methylbutyrate (HMB), L-arginine, and L-lysine.

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  • 1Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition, Iowa State University, Ames, IA 50011, USA.



A major contributing factor to the loss of mobility in elderly people is the gradual and continuous loss of lean body mass. Objectives: To determine whether supplementation of an amino acid cocktail daily for 1 year could improve the age-associated changes in protein turnover and lean body mass in elderly people.


Elderly (76+/-1.6 years) women (n=39) and men (n=38) were recruited for a double-blinded controlled study. Study participants were randomly assigned to either an isonitrogenous control-supplement (n=37) or a treatment-supplement (HMB/Arg/Lys) consisting of beta-hydroxy-beta-methylbutyrate, L-arginine, and L-lysine (n=40) for the 1-year study. Lean tissue mass was measured using both bioelectrical-impedance analysis (BIA) and dual energy x-ray absorptiometry (DXA). Rates of whole-body protein turnover were estimated using primed/intermittent oral doses of 15N-glycine.


In subjects taking the HMB/Arg/Lys supplement, lean tissue increased over the year of study while in the control group, lean tissue did not change. Compared with control, HMB/Arg/Lys increased body cell mass (BIA) by 1.6% (P=.002) and lean mass (DXA) by 1.2% (P=.05). The rates of protein turnover were significantly increased 8% and 12% in the HMB/Arg/Lys-supplemented group while rates of protein turnover decreased 11% and 9% in the control-supplemented subjects (P<.01), at 3 and 12 months, respectively.


Consumption of a simple amino acid-related cocktail increased protein turnover and lean tissue in elderly individuals in a year-long study.

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