In a recent study conducted by UCLA Division of Geriatrics in their latest publication of Healthy/Years, it suggests "that the more muscle mass older Americans have, the less likely they are to die prematurely." Their findings also show that overall body composition-and not the widely used body mass index, or BMI-is a better predictor of all-cause mortality.
As there is not a gold-standard measure of body composition, they took a look at how using different measurement techniques also resulted in varying the results. Dr. Srikanthan, MD, MS, assistant clinical professor in the endocrinology division at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA said: "So many studies on the mortality impact of obesity focus on BMI." His study indicated that "clinicians need to be focusing on ways to improve body composition, rather than on BMI alone, when counseling older adults on preventative health behaviors."
Dr. Srikanthan findings were: "The greater your muscle mass, the lower your risk of death." His conclusion was this: "Rather than worrying about weight or body mass index, we should be trying to maximize and maintain muscle mass."
According to this article, there are several factors that may affect muscle mass throughout your life. Here are the most notable:
Protein intake. According to several of our research findings, the recommended daily protein intake for women is .03 ounces per 2.2 pounds of body weight. Your protein sources include: meat, poultry, fish, dairy, lentils, beans, and peas. It is believed that in building muscle mass, it's better to eat more plant protein and fewer animal proteins.
Vitamin D. This vitamin is critical in the preservation of muscle mass and function. Vitamin D is called the "sunshine" vitamin, as in we generally get our D from the sun. However, the concern with sun exposure and it's possible link with skin cancer, getting enough D from the sun is not advisable. Our next source of D, however limited, is derived from foods such as fish or eggs. Firm Foundation recommends that you consult your PCP (primary care physician) to discuss your vitamin D level and possible needs for supplementation.
Vitamin B12 and folic acid. Studies show that the recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) of B12 is 2.4 micrograms (mcg), and 400 mcg of folate. Vitamin B12 can be found in salmon, tuna, beef, milk, yogurt, and cheese. Folate can be found in foods like spinach, black-eyed peas, asparagus, Brussels sprouts, avocado, broccoli, and green peas.
Please consult your PCP before starting any vitamin regime or supplementation as the need for amounts varies from person to person.