Nutrition, Aging, and Chronic Low-Grade Systemic Inflammation in Relation to Osteoporosis and Sarcopenia

  • Robin M. DalyEmail author


Aging is accompanied by a chronic low-grade systemic inflammation state, characterized by an increase in circulating levels in inflammatory mediators, that has been strongly implicated in the pathophysiology of common chronic diseases, including osteoporosis and fractures, sarcopenia, and disability. While a range of genetic, hormonal, environmental, and lifestyle factors have been reported to contribute to increased levels of inflammation, various dietary patterns, foods, and nutrients have also been reported to have anti-inflammatory effects, particularly in people with chronic diseases characterized by increased inflammation such as cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and cancer. With regard to musculoskeletal and functional outcomes, the findings from cross-sectional and prospective studies and randomized controlled trials on the effects of dietary/supplemental calcium, vitamin D, protein, vitamin K, omega-3 fatty acids, or their combination or food products such as dairy on markers of inflammation are mixed. Currently there is little or no evidence that these nutrients or foods attenuate circulating inflammatory cytokines in healthy middle-aged and older adults. In contrast, in people with chronic disease and/or increased inflammation, including those with osteoporosis and sarcopenia, a limited number of human intervention trials, mostly conducted over 12–16 weeks, have reported that calcium-vitamin D supplementation, high-dairy diets, and increased dietary protein, vitamin K, or omega-3 fatty acids alone or in combination with resistance training can produce modest reductions in inflammation. Whether these short-term reductions in inflammatory markers are clinically important and translate into positive effects on muscle and bone health and function or reduced disability remains unknown. Further randomized controlled trials in older adults and the elderly with or at increased risk of chronic disease are needed to evaluate the long-term efficacy of different nutrients or combination of nutrients and dietary interventions on markers of inflammation and their relation to musculoskeletal health outcomes.


Inflammation Osteoporosis Fracture Sarcopenia Calcium Vitamin D Protein Vitamin K Omega-3 fatty acids Aging Cytokines 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag London 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre for Physical Activity and Nutrition Research (C-PAN), School of Exercise and Nutrition SciencesDeakin UniversityBurwood, MelbourneAustralia

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