Seniors with higher selenium levels had stronger muscles than those with lower levels, and older adults who took creatine and CLA along with exercise had stronger, leaner muscles and less fat compared to placebo, in two new studies.
In the selenium study, doctors noted that muscles need selenium to function properly, but that there are no studies on how selenium affects muscle strength. Researchers examined 891 men and women aged 65 or older who had taken part in the “Chianti” community-based study in Tuscany, Italy. Scientists measured blood-plasma levels of selenium and found that on average, selenium levels were 24% below the minimum doctors believe is necessary to produce enough selenoproteins, the antioxidant enzymes that keep muscles healthy. Researchers also measured hip flex strength, hand grip strength and knee extension strength, and found that participants with the highest selenium levels—those in the top 25%—were 41% more likely to have strong hips and 48% more likely to have strong hand grip and knee extension compared to participants with the lowest selenium levels, who were in the bottom 25%.
In the creatine/linoleic acid study, researchers recruited 19 men and 20 women, aged 65 or older, who had supervised resistance exercise training twice per week for six months while taking 5 grams of creatine monohydrate plus 6 grams of conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) per day or a placebo. Scientists measured walking, balance, sitting, standing and stair climbing and found that both groups improved, but that the creatine/CLA group had greater muscle endurance, stronger knee extensions, more lean muscle (fat-free) mass and had lost more fat than the placebo group, without side effects.