Vitamin D plus leucine-enriched whey supplement shows anti-inflammatory benefits

By Stephen Daniells

- Last updated on GMT

© Getty Images / CherriesJD
© Getty Images / CherriesJD
A combination supplement of vitamin D plus leucine-enriched whey protein may reduce chronic low-grade inflammation in older people with sarcopenia, says a new study.

Data published in Aging Clinical and Experimental Research​ indicated that 13 weeks of supplementation led to attenuation in levels of the pro-inflammatory cytokine IL-6 (interleukin-6), compared to the control group.

“We conclude that 13 weeks of nutritional supplementation with VitD and leucine-enriched whey protein may attenuate the progression of chronic low-grade inflammation in older sarcopenic persons with mobility limitations,”​ wrote researchers affiliated with institutions across Europe.

“Our results can be of clinical significance since chronic low-grade inflammation is a major contributor to the progression of frailty and sarcopenia.”

Sarcopenia and inflammation

Muscle loss is a natural part of aging, and researchers have estimated that, after the age of 50, we lose 1-2% of our muscles each year. Strength declines as well, at a rate of 1.5% per year beginning at 50 years and accelerating to 3% after the age of 60.

Sarcopenia is associated with a chronic low-grade inflammatory profile (CLIP) in older adults, and contributing factors include the weakening of the immune system (immunosenescence), a lack of physical activity, a decline of sex hormones, and increases in fat tissue levels.

The new study indicated that a combination of vitamin D and leucine-enriched whey protein may help.

Study details

The researchers recruited a total of 288 over 65 year old with limited mobility, and randomly assigned them to receive either the vitamin D-whey supplement or a control product for 13 weeks. The daily doses in the supplement were 1,600 IU of vitamin D and 40 grams of whey protein with 6 grams of leucine.

Results showed that overall increases were observed in IL-6 and IL-1Ra levels over 13 weeks, but the vitamin D – whey intervention attenuated the IL-6 increases, compared to the control group.

“As both VitD and protein—as main components of the nutritional supplement—can have anti-inflammatory effects, linear regression analysis was used to appraise the proportional contribution of changes in circulating 25(OH)D and protein (reflected by circulating pre-albumin) to the changes in IL-6,” ​wrote the researchers. “Our results point towards the effects of the protein component of the nutritional supplementation (reflected by the changes in circulating pre-albumin) as significantly associated with the attenuation in IL-6 increase.”

Source: Aging Clinical and Experimental Research
Published online ahead of print, doi: 10.1007/s40520-019-01208-4
“Thirteen weeks of supplementation of vitamin D and leucine-enriched whey protein nutritional supplement attenuates chronic low-grade inflammation in sarcopenic older adults: the PROVIDE study”
Authors: K. Liberman et al.

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