Vitamin D status affects strength gains in older adults supplemented with a combination of β-hydroxy-β-methylbutyrate, arginine, and lysine: a cohort study

JPEN J Parenter Enteral Nutr. 2011 Nov;35(6):757-62. doi: 10.1177/0148607111413903. Epub 2011 Aug 1.


Background: Older adults supplemented for 1 year with β-hydroxy-β-methylbutyrate, arginine, and lysine (HMB/ARG/LYS) were previously shown to have significant gains in fat-free mass (FFM) but not muscular strength.

Objective: Recently, increasing levels of serum vitamin D have been associated with an increase in muscle function, particularly in the elderly. To determine if vitamin D status may have limited strength gain in participants supplemented with HMB/ARG/LYS, the authors performed post hoc analysis of strength based on the participants' vitamin D status.

Methods: Elderly (age 76.0 ± 1.6 years) adults were recruited for a double-blinded, controlled study and were randomly assigned to either an isonitrogenous control (n = 37) or HMB/ARG/LYS (n = 40) for the yearlong study. Participants were further segregated based on their vitamin D status of either <30 or ≥30 ng 25OH-vitD(3)/mL serum, and an analysis was performed on the 4 cohorts.

Results: Regardless of vitamin D status, HMB/ARG/LYS resulted in significantly increased FFM (P < .02), but only in those with vitamin D status ≥30 ng 25OH-vitD(3)/mL was there a significant increase in strength with HMB/ARG/LYS (P < .01). Control-supplemented participants, regardless of vitamin D status, and the HMB/ARG/LYS-supplemented participants with vitamin D status <30 ng 25OH-vitD(3) failed to show improvements in strength.

Conclusions: The nutrient cocktail of HMB/ARG/LYS alone was effective in increasing muscle mass regardless of vitamin D status, but accompanying strength increases were observed only when participants also had adequate vitamin D status indicating a synergistic effect between the HMB/ARG/LYS and vitamin D.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Amino Acids / pharmacology*
  • Arginine / pharmacology
  • Body Fluid Compartments / drug effects
  • Butyrates / pharmacology*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Dietary Supplements
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lysine / pharmacology
  • Male
  • Muscle Strength / drug effects
  • Muscle Strength / physiology*
  • Muscle, Skeletal / drug effects
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiology*
  • Physical Fitness / physiology*
  • Vitamin D / analogs & derivatives*
  • Vitamin D / blood
  • Vitamin D Deficiency / blood
  • Vitamin D Deficiency / complications*


  • Amino Acids
  • Butyrates
  • Vitamin D
  • Arginine
  • 25-hydroxyvitamin D
  • Lysine