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A fall in muscle mass and function as the age increases is termed sarcopenia. The affected individual is unable to perform normal daily activities, which eventually affects the quality of life.
Increased oxidative stress seems to be a significant factor behind the development of sarcopenia. Curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric, may have a key role in the management of this condition, given its antioxidant properties.
A study evaluating the effects of curcumin supplementation on muscle force characteristics in aging experimental models assessed models given diet ad libitum (CON), a second group given the same diet which also contained 0.2% curcumin (CUR), and a third group that was pair fed (PAIR, n=4) that was given the purified diet in an amount equal to the food consumed by CUR models.
Muscle mass (g) was found to be significantly lower in the PAIR group (0.190±.019, p<0.05), while it was similar in CUR and CON groups (0.285±0.016 and 0.306±0.014, respectively). Normalized peak tetanic tension (N/g) was 30% higher in the CUR group compared to the PAIR group (CUR=77.52±9.881, PAIR=59.6±2.556). Dietary curcumin thus seems to mitigate the decline in muscle mass due to reduced food intake among pair fed, aging models.
Another study that assessed the effects of prolonged dietary curcumin exposure on muscle mass and function of aged models (CON, CUR, PAIR groups) noted that CUR group had larger plantaris mass and force production in comparison with PAIR group. Nuclear fraction levels of nuclear factor erythroid-2 related-factor-2 were greater and oxidative macromolecule damage was lower in CUR group. Consumption of curcumin, in association with reduced food intake, was found to have beneficial effects on aged skeletal muscle in this study as well.
Curcumin supplementation thus seems to yield greater mass and function during a food-restricted state and has potential benefits for the aging skeletal muscle.