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. 2018 Aug 16;10(8):1099.
doi: 10.3390/nu10081099.

An Update on Protein, Leucine, Omega-3 Fatty Acids, and Vitamin D in the Prevention and Treatment of Sarcopenia and Functional Decline

Free PMC article

An Update on Protein, Leucine, Omega-3 Fatty Acids, and Vitamin D in the Prevention and Treatment of Sarcopenia and Functional Decline

Anne-Julie Tessier et al. Nutrients. .
Free PMC article


Aging is associated with sarcopenia and functional decline, leading to frailty and disability. As a modifiable risk factor, nutrition may represent a target for preventing or postponing the onset of these geriatric conditions. Among nutrients, high-quality protein, leucine, vitamin D, and omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (n-3 PUFA) are of particular interest for their demonstrated effects on skeletal muscle health. This narrative review aims to examine the recent observational and interventional evidence on the associations and the role of these nutrients in the muscle mass, strength, mobility, and physical function of free-living older adults, who are either healthy or at risk of frailty. Recent evidence supports a higher protein intake recommendation of 1.0⁻1.2 g/kg/day in healthy older adults; an evenly distributed mealtime protein intake or minimal protein per meal may be beneficial. In addition, vitamin D supplementation of 800⁻1000 IU, particularly when vitamin D status is low, and doses of ~3 g/day of n-3 PUFA may be favorable for physical function, muscle mass, and strength. Reviewed studies are highly heterogenous, yet the quantity, quality, and timing of intakes should be considered when designing intervention studies. Combined protein, leucine, vitamin D, and n-3 PUFA supplements may convey added benefits and may represent an intervention strategy in the prevention of sarcopenia and functional decline.

Keywords: frailty; leucine; muscle strength; older adults; omega-3 fatty acids; physical performance; protein; sarcopenia; vitamin D.

Conflict of interest statement

The authors declare no conflict of interest.


Figure 1
Figure 1
Potential role of nutrition on the physical health of older adults. Short arrows within boxes: increase or decrease. Long arrows between boxes: may lead to. Double-sided arrows: the relationship may be bidirectional. Arrows passing through boxes: factors in box could be mediators.

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