Coffee Compound May Help Counteract Age-Related Muscle Loss

Your morning brew may give you more than an energy boost.

George Citroner, The Epoch Times, Apr 21, 2024

One of the world’s favorite brews may hold the key to keeping muscles strong and healthy as we age.

According to recent research, a natural compound found in coffee could be the secret weapon against age-related muscle loss.

The Muscle-Preserving Molecule

Mitochondria, the powerhouses of our cells, play a crucial role in muscle health. An issue linked to sarcopenia, the age-related loss of muscle mass and strength, is that these cellular components generate less energy as we get older. Compounding this problem, levels of the crucial substance NAD+ (which stands for nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide), a coenzyme that helps cells regenerate and protects them from damage, also decline with age.

Researchers already know that NAD+ levels can be boosted using various dietary precursors, including the essential amino acid L-tryptophan and different forms of vitamin B3, such as nicotinic acid, nicotinamide, nicotinamide riboside, and nicotinamide mononucleotide.

n a recent study published in Nature Metabolism, scientists investigated whether an alkaline compound called trigonelline could help reverse these age-related changes in muscle health.

The researchers analyzed trigonelline levels in the blood of mice and worms and found that high levels of the substance were positively associated with muscle strength and function.

Conversely, low trigonelline levels were linked to sarcopenia, the typical loss of muscle size and strength that occurs with aging.

Trigonelline Promoted Healthy Longevity

Trigonelline is structurally related to vitamin B3 and is produced naturally in the body, in addition to being found in certain foods.

“We discovered that older people with low endogenous levels of trigonelline in their blood lose more muscle mass and strength during aging,” Katharina Fischer, research and development and scientific communications manager at Nestle Research in Switzerland, where the study was conducted, told The Epoch Times. “We also discovered that trigonelline is a precursor to NAD.”

Providing trigonelline promoted longevity in test animals by activating cellular energy production in mitochondria and increasing muscle strength and function during aging, according to Ms. Fischer.

These findings open new opportunities to test the clinical efficacy of increasing trigonelline consumption through food products or supplements to improve muscle health, she noted.

Foods That Contain Trigonelline

Trigonelline is an alkaloid compound found in various plant sources. While it may not be as well-known as some other beneficial plant compounds, trigonelline is present in a variety of dietary sources. About 5 percent of the niacin we consume is converted into trigonelline.

Coffee Beans

Trigonelline is more abundant in coffee beans than in any other food source, and it contributes to coffee’s characteristic bitterness. However, during the roasting process, trigonelline partly breaks down to form nicotinic acid (niacin or vitamin B3), another nutrient with significant health benefits.

Fenugreek Seeds

Fenugreek, a plant commonly used in Indian and Middle Eastern cuisines, contains about 35 percent alkaloids, with trigonelline being the primary one in the seeds.

Other Foods

Trigonelline can be found in a variety of other foods, including barley, cantaloupe, corn, onions, peas, soybeans, and tomatoes.

You can also obtain trigonelline by eating fish, mussels, and crustaceans.

Never Too Late to Address Age-Related Muscle Loss: Expert

It’s natural to lose muscle mass as we age.

“Sarcopenia can occur due to a myriad of factors, such as immobility, lack of proper nutrition, obesity, and lack of physical activity,” Macie Smith, a licensed gerontology social worker, told The Epoch Times. “Since the senior population tends to be more sedentary, you’ll see it show up more prevalently in persons over the age of 65, but the process can begin as early as 30 - 40 years of age.”

However, while we cannot prevent aging, we can reduce muscle mass loss caused by it.

This can be done through proper exercise; a balanced, nutritional diet; and managing any underlying health conditions.

“It’s never too late to build and strengthen muscle to counter the effects of sarcopenia,” Ms. Smith said. “You can always develop a new exercise regimen that will allow you to become active and to maintain the active lifestyle.”

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