Sarcopenia is a progressive and generalised skeletal muscle disorder involving the accelerated loss of muscle mass and strength that is associated with increased adverse outcomes including falls, functional decline, frailty, and mortality.
With the aging population in Singapore, it has become more and more important to address the issue of muscle health. An article published by BMC Geriatrics1 presents recommendations for what we can do to identify, assess and address sarcopenia throughout life and before and after illnesses. These recommendations are based on the new multidisciplinary consensus reviewed and endorsed by the Society of Rehabilitation Medicine Singapore and the Singapore Nutrition and Dietetics Association.
Take the SARC-F questionnaire to screen yourself for possible sarcopenia
Have you checked on your muscle health lately? The first thing to do is to find out if you are at risk of sarcopenia and if you need to strengthen the muscles. You can use the adapted version of the self-screening questionnaire, called SARC-F, below. Find out if you or your loved one is at risk of sarcopenia.
Strength, Assistance in walking, Rise from a chair, Climb stairs, Falls
Screen for strength now
You may be at risk of muscle loss but it’s not too late to start improving your muscle health now. Speak to your doctor to find out how to improve your muscle health through nutrition and exercise. Act now to live life strong!
You don't seem to be at risk for sarcopenia. If you are concerned, please consult with a doctor.
After SARC-F: how to prevent or treat sarcopenia?
Once you are done with the self-assessment, there are 3 main changes that you can make to your lifestyle to treat or prevent sarcopenia.
Start practicing resistance-based exercises, using resistance bands or weights. Walking and keeping active are also key to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Every day is key. It is better to do a little bit every day, than one big session once a week.
Add oral nutritional supplements to your diet
Studies have shown that in order to maintain muscle mass and muscle health as we age, we need more protein in our diet. In addition, HMB (β-hydroxy-β-methylbutyrate), which supports muscle building and prevents muscle loss, when taken as part of an oral nutrition supplement, may be beneficial for building and preserving muscle mass in older adults, according to the SHIELD Study, by Changi General Hospital (CGH), SingHealth Polyclinics (SHP), and Abbott. In fact, adults with malnutrition risk who consumed two glasses of an oral nutritional supplement with HMB and were supported with dietary counselling were 3x more likely to have lower nutritional risk; significantly improved leg strength at 90 days and significantly improved handgrip among females at 180 days.
What is HMB?
HMB is a leucine metabolite that helps counteract muscle loss. It is present in small quantities in foods such as avocados, citrus fruit, broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus, eggs and beef. Although leucine is found in food, adequate HMB is difficult to get from the diet alone. It is also known that levels of HMB in the body, may decrease with age.
Get enough vitamin D
Vitamin D is vital to maintain normal muscle function. You need 600-800 IU/Day of Vitamin D. Get your daily dose of sunshine! Step outside and enjoy the sun. The SHIELD Study has also shown that the consumption of 2 servings of the specialised ONS with HMB daily, improved Vitamin D levels.
Take the SARC-F test today, and make it a family habit to live life strong. It is never too late to start improving your muscle health.
1 Chew, S.T.H., Kayambu, G., Lew, C.C.H. et al. Singapore multidisciplinary consensus recommendations on muscle health in older adults: assessment and multimodal targeted intervention across the continuum of care. BMC Geriatr 21, 314 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12877-021-02240-8SG.2021.18565.ENS.1