Can Vitamin Supplementation with Resistance Training Reduce Muscle Mass Damage?

January 18, 2015
Jeannette Y. Wick, RPh, MBA, FASCP

Although clinicians have explored resistance and cognitive training as methods for preventing age-related declines in muscle mass and immune function, research among patients aged 70 years and older has been sparse.

Although clinicians have explored resistance and cognitive training as methods for preventing age-related declines in muscle mass and immune function, research among patients aged 70 years and older has been sparse.

The January 2015 issue of Mutagenesis included a study that examined the effects of resistance training, with and without nutritional supplementation, and cognitive training in nursing home residents in Vienna, Austria. Residents were 83 years of age, on average, and 88% were women. All of the residents had average to low physical performance, but were considered well nourished.

The investigators selected residents for the study’s resistance training arm after ensuring that they were physically cleared for the regimen. Resistance training consisted of 1-hour sessions on 2 nonconsecutive days per week with intensity adjustments in consideration of individual physical ability. Cognitive training consisted of memory and finger dexterity tasks for an hour on 2 nonconsecutive days per week. Nutrient supplementation was accomplished with a high-protein, vitamin-supplemented shake.

The investigators measured DNA damage using fasting blood samples for single cell gel electrophoresis assay. They tested physical fitness by observing chair rise frequency, handgrip strength, and 6-minute walking distance tests at baseline, 3 months, and 6 months.

Both resistance and cognitive training led to similar improvements in resistance against DNA damage. Physical activity and socialization are equally important in maintaining physical and cognitive function in nursing home residents, and the investigators noted that the increased activity and parallel socialization might be responsible for improvements in both study arms.

Nutrient supplementation appeared to have no effect in well-nourished patients, though the investigators indicated that the subjects’ good baseline nutrition might have confounded results.

Resistance and cognitive training are effective in nursing home residents to reduce muscle mass loss, prevent cognitive decline, and maintain activities of daily living, which are essential in reducing fall risk. Similar exercises are likely to prove effective in noninstitutionalized populations.