The Effect of β-hydroxy-β-methylbutyrate (HMB) on Sarcopenia and Functional Frailty in Older Persons: A Systematic Review

J Nutr Health Aging. 2019;23(2):145-150. doi: 10.1007/s12603-018-1153-y.


Background: Beta-hydroxy-beta-methylbutyrate (HMB) has been shown to be effective and superior to other types of protein supplements to attenuate loss of muscle mass, strength and function, however, its benefits in sarcopenic and frail older people remain unclear.

Objective: We seek to determine the effect of HMB on muscle mass, strength and function in older people with sarcopenia or frailty by reviewing results from available randomized controlled trials (RCTs).

Design: This review was registered at PROSPERO (University of York) with registration number CRD42018088462 and conducted according to the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis (PRISMA) guidelines. Using a pre-determined e-search strategy, we searched PubMed, Medline, EMBASE, CINAHL, LILACS, Web of Science, Cochrane and Scopus databases. Our inclusion criteria were RCTs that assessed the effect of HMB on muscle mass, strength and function in older people with sarcopenia and frailty aged ≥60 years. The main outcomes were lean body mass, handgrip, leg press strength, and Short Physical Performance Battery (SPPB) score.

Results: Three studies matched our eligibility criteria which enrolled 203 subjects through a variety of definitions of sarcopenia or frailty. Lean body mass increased and muscle strength and function were preserved following HMB supplementation.

Conclusion: HMB improves lean muscle mass and preserves muscle strength and function in older people with sarcopenia or frailty.

Keywords: Beta-hydroxy-beta-methylbutyrate; HMB; frailty; muscle; sarcopenia.

Publication types

  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Body Composition
  • Dietary Supplements
  • Female
  • Frailty / drug therapy*
  • Hand Strength / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiology
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Sarcopenia / drug therapy*
  • Sarcopenia / physiopathology*
  • Valerates / therapeutic use*


  • Valerates
  • beta-hydroxyisovaleric acid