FRIDAY, Sept. 17, 2004 (HealthDayNews) -- Nutritional supplements may help prevent muscle-wasting during extended bed rest, says a study in the September issue of the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.
The study by scientists at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston included 13 healthy male volunteers who were confined to bed rest for 28 days.
Seven of them received drinks containing essential amino acids and carbohydrates three times a day. The six other volunteers received a placebo with no nutritional value.
The volunteers who received the supplements retained all of their original muscle mass while those on the placebo lost on average of about a pound of leg muscle. Those on the supplements lost about half as much leg strength as those on the placebo.
"We thought it was the most astounding thing that even though our subjects did no exercise, they were able to maintain muscle mass," lead author Douglas Paddon-Jones said in a prepared statement.
This kind of supplement regime could help reduce muscle loss in astronauts on long space flights and in hospitalized elderly people, the researchers said.
"The elderly have less muscle to spare than the rest of us. When they get sick or injured and wind up in a hospital bed for a prolonged period, many of them lose so much muscle mass and strength that they don't get back up. For a lot of people, this supplement could make a real difference," Paddon-Jones said.
The U.S. National Library of Medicine has more about muscle atrophy.