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Leucine May Help Slow Loss of Muscle Mass in Mature Adults

As we age, a degenerative loss of skeletal muscle mass occurs, also known as sarcopenia. A recent study suggests that taking leucine supplements may help increase muscle protein synthesis in mature adults, and slow the loss of muscle mass.

For this study, researchers looked at the results of nine randomized control trials. Five of the studies used long term dosing (ten days) while the other four used short-term dosing (four days).

After examining the data, the researchers found that muscle protein fractional synthetic rate after intervention was significantly higher in the supplement groups than in the control groups. An increase in the synthetic rate indicates an anabolic state that builds lean tissues.

However, no difference in lean body mass or leg lean mass was found between the two groups. The researchers believe that long-term or acute supplementation with leucine could result in increased lean body mass.

Researchers from Zhejiang University in China conducted the study. It was published online ahead of print on September 19, 2015, in the British Journal of Nutrition.

Leucine is an essential amino acid that stimulates skeletal muscle protein synthesis, which starts the muscle building process. It is not, however, the only nutritional supplement that can help build muscle. Previous studies suggest that dairy protein and creatine (which is found in red meat and in supplemental form) may help as well.

In addition to building muscle, leucine also helps regulate blood sugar levels. Foods rich in leucine include soybeans, lentils, beef, peanuts, salmon, eggs and milk.

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