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Am J Clin Nutr. 2016 Mar;103(3):830-40. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.115.113357. Epub 2016 Feb 10.

Whey protein, amino acids, and vitamin D supplementation with physical activity increases fat-free mass and strength, functionality, and quality of life and decreases inflammation in sarcopenic elderly.

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Department of Public Health and Experimental and Forensic Medicine, Section of Human Nutrition and Dietetics, Azienda Human Service of Pavia,
Biometry and Clinical Epidemiology Service, San Matteo Hospital, Pavia, Italy;
Research and Clinical Investigation Department, Company Medical Dietetics, Savigliano, Italy;
Research and Clinical Investigation Department, Akern, Pontassieve, Italy; and.
Medical and Genomic Statistics Unit, Department of Brain and Behavioral Sciences, and.
Department of Public Health and Experimental and Forensic Medicine, Section of Human Nutrition and Dietetics, Azienda Human Service of Pavia.
Department of Internal Medicine, University of Pavia, Pavia, Italy;
Department of Kinesiology and Public Health Education, Hyslop Sports Center, University of North Dakota, Grand Forks, ND.



Interventions to attenuate the adverse effects of age-related loss of skeletal muscle and function include increased physical activity and nutritional supplementation.


This study tested the hypothesis that nutritional supplementation with whey protein (22 g), essential amino acids (10.9 g, including 4 g leucine), and vitamin D [2.5 μg (100 IU)] concurrent with regular, controlled physical activity would increase fat-free mass, strength, physical function, and quality of life, and reduce the risk of malnutrition in sarcopenic elderly persons.


A total of 130 sarcopenic elderly people (53 men and 77 women; mean age: 80.3 y) participated in a 12-wk randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled supplementation trial. All participants concurrently took part in a controlled physical activity program. We examined body composition with dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry, muscle strength with a handgrip dynamometer, and blood biochemical indexes of nutritional and health status, and evaluated global nutritional status, physical function, and quality of life before and after the 12 wk of intervention.


Compared with physical activity and placebo, supplementation plus physical activity increased fat-free mass (1.7-kg gain, P < 0.001), relative skeletal muscle mass (P = 0.009), android distribution of fat (P = 0.021), handgrip strength (P = 0.001), standardized summary scores for physical components (P = 0.030), activities of daily living (P = 0.001), mini nutritional assessment (P = 0.003), and insulin-like growth factor I (P = 0.002), and lowered C-reactive protein (P = 0.038).


Supplementation with whey protein, essential amino acids, and vitamin D, in conjunction with age-appropriate exercise, not only boosts fat-free mass and strength but also enhances other aspects that contribute to well-being in sarcopenic elderly. This trial was registered at as NCT02402608.


amino acids; dietary supplement; elderly; fat-free mass; insulin-like growth factor I; relative skeletal muscle mass; sarcopenia; vitamin D; whey protein

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