Amino acids improve quality of life
Amino acids improve quality of life

Effect of essential amino acid supplementation on quality of life, amino acid profile and strength in institutionalized elderly patients

Overview

Health-related quality of life describes a person’s perception of how a disease has affected them physically and mentally, and is used to measure a condition's impact on functioning and overall well-being. Contributing factors to reduced health-related quality of life include socio-economic status, inadequate nutrition, lack of physical activity, and depression. Improving health-related quality of life in institutionalized elderly adults is a primary goal of health care.

Trial Length

8 Weeks

Number of Subjects

41

Gender

All genders

Age Range

75 - 95

The Goal

Researchers investigated the effect of supplementation with essential amino acids on depression, nutrition, muscle function, daily physical activity, and health-related quality of life in institutionalized elderly patients.

The Results

Nursing-home patients who had suffered from coronary artery disease or a femoral fracture received either 4 grams of essential amino acids twice a day for 8 weeks or a placebo made up of the same number of calories.  

Before and after the study researchers measured symptoms of depression, took a nutritional panel and amino acid profile, determined muscle strength with a hand grip test, and assessed daily activity levels and quality of life.

Results indicate that elderly patients who took essential amino acids were less depressed, more physically active with greater muscle strength and nutritional status, and enjoyed improved quality of life.


Graph showing patient improvement with use of essential amino acids

Researchers theorize that essential amino acids help to reduce depression symptoms by increasing serotonin levels in the brain and by improving nutritional status through increased muscle protein synthesis and muscle strength. 

The Conclusion

Findings indicate that oral supplementation with essential amino acids improves quality of life in institutionalized elderly patients by reducing depression, improving nutrition, and increasing strength and activity levels.

The Why?

Depression is prevalent among institutionalized elderly patients, and can greatly increase the risk of heart disease, neurologic diseases, weight loss, declines in muscle strength and increased frailty, and overall poor future health outcomes. Improving health-related quality of life, including symptoms of depression, nutritional status, muscle function, and physical performance can help reduce the risk of morbidity and mortality. This study shows that nutritional intervention with 8 grams of essential amino acids daily can offer protective benefit.

Citation

Rondanelli M, Opizzi A, Antoniello N, et al. Effect of essential amino acid supplementation on quality of life, amino acid profile and strength in institutionalized elderly patients. Clin Nutr. 2011;30(5):571-577. doi:10.1016/j.clnu.2011.04.005