Muscle mass and strength naturally decline with age. Fortunately for us older folk, there are naturally occurring nutrients that promote muscle in adults and aid in recovery after exercise. For those of us who love to exercise and maintain our health, it is refreshing to know, that we can sustain muscle development as well naturally. So, which nutrient helps build muscle? Mainly L-carnitine, in conjunction with l-leucine, and creatin.
In an 8-week study on Nutrition & Metabolism;2017, published online, 42 healthy adults, age 55 to 70, took a placebo, or 1,500 mg l-carnitine with or without 2,000 mg l-leucine, 3,000 mg creatin, and 400 IU vitamin D3, per day.
After eight weeks, muscle mass, strength, and mobility were stable in the l-carnitine group while declining slightly for the placebo group. Those taking the carnitine-leucine-creatin-viatmin D combination saw a total lean muscle mass increase by an average of 2.2 pounds, leg lean muscle mass increase by 11.2 ounces and, compared to the placebo group, lower leg strength 2.2 pounds greater. So, as you can see, l-carnitine truly is the nutrient that helps build muscle.
How does it work?
Discussing the findings, doctors said the supplements likely built lean muscle mass and lower leg strength by increasing the ability of the body to synthesize protein, and that taking these nutrients beyond eight weeks may further enhance physical performance in healthy older adults.
This is interesting, because there are many diets on the market that stress the importance of eating protein and calculating the right amount of protein, however, if you can improve the synthesis of the protein you are already taking in, you are more likely to build that all important muscle mass. This is especially important as we age.
Exercise Recovery and Cranberry
After intense exercise, inflammation and oxidation can slow down the recovery process. In another study, 16 members of the Polish Rowing Team took a placebo or 1,200 mg of cranberry extract for six weeks. The team performed a strenuous 1.24 mile rowing test before and two weeks after taking the supplements.
After a second test, several types of inflammation had increased only for the placebo group, including signs of systemic inflammation, muscle cell damage, and excess levels of a hormone in the liver that can interfere with iron storage in the blood.
Doctors also measured antioxidant levels and found those taking cranberry extract had significantly higher total antioxidant capacity at rest, after exercise, and after recovery.
So, the take-away here is that taking cranberry extract before strenuous exercise can boost total antioxidant capacity, help control inflammation, and reduce oxidative stress during and after recovery.
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Another Nutrient Helps Build Muscle
This nutrient is found in most, if not all fruits and vegetables. It also adds color to your plate if you eat it fresh. Yes indeed I am speaking about Vitamin C. Vitamin C “is responsible for the health of the blood vessels, which support the muscles’ need for oxygen and nutrients,” says John Cuomo, PH.D., of USANA Health Sciences, a company that develops and manufactures nutritional supplements. Also, Orthopedic surgeon Leon Popovitz, M.D., of NY Bone and Joint Specialists, adds that Vitamin C is a building block of collagen, a material that your body then uses to build bones and muscles.
How much? The National Institutes of Health recommends 75 mg daily, which you can get from a medium orange, half a red bell pepper, or a cup of strawberries. I do take Vitamin C tablets as well, but eating naturally is awesome!
If you are concerned about overall fitness and you work out routinely, which you should, include nutrients that aid in building your muscle’s so that you can, not only increase your overall health, but so you can easily recover from your exercise routine.
Eat lots of fruits and vegetables and take supplements such as l-carnitine with l-leucine and creatin, as well as cranberry. I would also recommend that you eat foods rich in vitamin C and do heart health exercises to maintain great fitness. Another recommendation is to eat fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids. I will focus on omega-3 fatty acids in another article at another time. It is also a very important nutrient as well. In the meantime, check out the video below to see the top 10 foods to build muscle mass. So, always stay healthy and fit. You will feel better about yourself and life in general.