Accelerated aging on muscles

 In our last newsletter, we discussed some of the causes of accelerated aging. In this newsletter, it will focus on the implications of accelerated aging on muscles.

Imagine this. You’ve been laid up after surgery. The doctors say that you will be back to your normal self in 90 days after surgery. But here it is, as the months drag on, you find that the road to recovery is not as quick as you had hoped. You find that you’re exhausted by seemingly small tasks. This isn’t exactly what you had bargained for. What happened?

When we have prolonged periods of challenge, or prolonged periods of inactivity, our muscles take a hit. As we age, we find that we lose strength and stamina. What happened?

Two things have simultaneously occurred. We have lost muscle mass and we have lost mitochondria to power the muscles.

The same thing happens to our horses. 

Muscle loss can result from:

» Inactivity

» Recovery from an illness or surgery

» Environmental insults

» Weight loss

» Consequences of aging

Knowing that our horse has lost muscle, these are some strategies that we can use to help our horse.

➡ Support increase muscle mass:

The first step to increasing muscle mass is to be sure that your horse is getting adequate protein. After muscle loss, recent research indicates that it may be beneficial to increase the protein intake. It has been shown that older people need more protein than younger people because older people are not as efficient in building muscle as younger people. It’s also important to remember that protein is not stored during the day, like some nutrients.

One of the challenges of getting sufficient protein is that there are limiting amino acids. Your horse’s feed may have adequate protein overall, but still be deficient in lysinethreonine, and methionine. If those deficiencies exist, then your horse will not be able to utilize the full benefit of the protein.

Another important aspect to increasing muscle mass is the amino acid leucine. This amino acid can be incorporated into protein. However, it’s role as a signaling molecule is important. As a signaling molecule, it retards the breakdown of protein and stimulates protein synthesis.

Possible solutions:

To help build muscle mass for your horse, increase the amount of protein that your horse consumes. Also important is to increase the amount of the limiting amino acids with a product like Top 3 Aminos, which has lysine, methionine, and threonine. Also important is to incorporate additional leucine into the diet, either as Top 4 Aminos, or with the addition of leucine.

➡ Support healthy mitochondria:

The mitochondria are the powerhouses of the cell. When there is muscle loss, you lose mitochondria, as well as their efficiency. To regain healthy muscle, it’s important to address the number of mitochondria, as well as the muscle mass within the cell.

Possible solutions:

Supplements that support healthy and increased numbers of mitochondria include acetyl l-carnitinequercetin, and CoQ10.  

➡ Support increase muscle strength and stamina:

To increase muscle strength and stamina, exercise is critical. It’s important to have graded exercises where you start an exercise program gradually, especially after muscle loss. This means to gradually increase the amount of work that your horse does. It is not beneficial to the horse to take the horse on an 8 hour ride after being out of work for the winter. Instead, start with 5 or 10 minutes a day, gradually working up to longer periods.

It’s important not to overestimate what is sufficient for your horse. You’re not looking for the maximum that your horse can do, you’re looking for a reasonable amount. Besides the muscles, the cartilage and ligaments need time to adjust to the increased work load.

➡ Support for healthy neuromuscular junctions:

The neuromuscular junctions are where the nerves attach to the muscle. These specialized fibers can have diminished capacity when there is muscle loss. To effectively increase the muscle’s capabilities, it is important that the neuromuscular junctions are working optimally.

Possible solutions:

Supplements that help support the neuromuscular junctions include acetyl l- carnitine and quercetin.

➡ Treat underlying issues:

It’s important to realize that effective strategies for regaining muscle should include a multi-pronged approach including adequate protein, exercise, and possibly supplementation. While those are excellent strategies, underlying causes for the muscle loss should be examined. If there are chronic diseases or endocrine issues, it’s important to address those issues. Otherwise, it may be difficult to achieve the desired outcome.

We want to take care of our horses the best we can as they age. It’s important to realize that horses have age-related declines, just like we do.

Disclaimer: Statements regarding dietary supplements have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease or health condition.


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