BACKGROUND & AIM: Sarcopenia, the age-related decrease in muscle mass, strength, and function, is a main cause of reduced mobility, increased falls, fractures and nursing home admissions. Cross-sectional and prospective studies indicate that sarcopenia may be influenced in part by reversible factors like nutritional intake. The aim of this study was to compare functional and nutritional status, body composition, and quality of life of older adults between age and sex-matched older adults with and without sarcopenia.
METHODS: In a multi-centre setting, non-sarcopenic older adults (n = 66, mean ± SD: 71 ± 4 y), i.e. Short Physical Performance Battery (SPPB): 11-12 and normal skeletal muscle mass index, were recruited to match 1:1 by age and sex to previously recruited adults with sarcopenia: SPPB 4-9 and low skeletal muscle mass index. Health-related quality of life, self-reported physical activity levels and dietary intakes were measured using the EQ-5D scale and index, Physical Activity Scale for the Elderly (PASE), and 3-day prospective diet records, respectively. Concentrations of 25-OH-vitamin D, α-tocopherol (adjusted for cholesterol), folate, and vitamin B-12 were assessed in serum samples.
RESULTS: In addition to the defined components of sarcopenia, i.e. muscle mass, strength and function, reported physical activity levels and health-related quality of life were lower in the sarcopenic adults (p < 0.001). For similar energy intakes (mean ± SD: sarcopenic, 1710 ± 418; non-sarcopenic, 1745 ± 513, p = 0.50), the sarcopenic group consumed less protein/kg (-6%), vitamin D (-38%), vitamin B-12 (-22%), magnesium (-6%), phosphorus (-5%), and selenium (-2%) (all p < 0.05) compared to the non-sarcopenic controls. The serum concentration of vitamin B-12 was 15% lower in the sarcopenic group (p = 0.015), and all other nutrient concentrations were similar between groups.
CONCLUSIONS: In non-malnourished older adults with and without sarcopenia, we observed that sarcopenia substantially impacted self-reported quality of life and physical activity levels. Differences in nutrient concentrations and dietary intakes were identified, which might be related to the differences in muscle mass, strength and function between the two groups. This study provides information to help strengthen the characterization of this geriatric syndrome sarcopenia and indicates potential target areas for nutritional interventions.