As the world population ages, there is a growing demand for health supplements that help reduce the decline in muscle activity associated with aging. Of these supplements, one of the most promising is Urolithin A.
In humans, the supplement intended to activate a natural biological function, appears to increase muscular endurance and mitochondrial health. According to a new study, urolithin A may assist increase or extend muscular activity in aging persons or in people who have conditions that make exercise difficult.
JAMA Network Open published the paper (Liu et al., 2022).
David Marcinek, a professor at the University of Washington School of Medicine and the study’s lead author, said: The finding is important for both people with long-term diseases and people who want to be more active as they age. This is research has been mostly about how mitochondria affect aging and diseases that last for a long time.
What is Urolithin A
Urolithin A is a naturally-occurring flavonoid metabolite found in various berries, pomegranates, nuts, and plants. It is produced when beneficial bacteria in the gut break down certain dietary compounds.
People generate urolithin A at varying rates because nutrition, age, genetics, and disease influence gut microbiota composition. Dietary supplement companies also manufacture and sell the supplement.
Once urolithin A is ingested or produced in the gut, the compound is absorbed by the intestinal mucosa and enters the bloodstream.
Studies Showing Urolithin A improves Muscle Function
Urolithin A has been studied for its potential to reduce cell damage from various types of aging-related diseases, including dementia and cardiovascular diseases. In addition, research suggests that Urolithin A may benefit muscle activity, specifically for older people.
In one study, mice were given Urolithin A supplements and then subjected to a series of activities that tested their muscle activity. In two distinct animal models of the age-related decrease of muscular function in mice, as well as in young rats, Urolithin A was found to increase exercise capacity (Ryu et al., 2016). Another study found that animals administered Urolithin A had enhanced skeletal muscle respiratory capacity, leading in muscle function recovery and increased survival in DMD mouse models (Luan et al., 2021).
Furthermore, Urolithin A has been found to alter the expression of certain genes responsible for promoting muscle regeneration, specifically in older adults. This gene expression may lead to a reduction in the onset of age-related muscle loss.
The study, published in JAMA Network, included a small group of persons over the age of 65 who were randomly assigned to either a placebo or a daily dosage of 1,000 mg urolithin A for four months. Each of the 66 patients was found to have an average or poor ability to make adenosine triphosphate (ATP), which mitochondria produce to enable cells to conduct a variety of activities.
The scientists hypothesized that if the urolithin A supplement did increase mitophagy, the test group would have better muscle function and more ATP.
Two comparisons of muscle function in both groups showed that the thesis was true, but two others did not:
Compared to the Placebo group, the supplemented group improved on two measures of muscular endurance. Exercises using the hand (first dorsal interosseous, between thumb and fingers) and leg were used to test endurance (tibialis anterior, alongside the shinbone.) Between a baseline test and a final test four months later, researchers examined the increase in the number of muscle contractions till tiredness.
In both the supplement and placebo groups, the distance traveled during a six-minute walk improved significantly between the baseline and four-month examinations. However, researchers saw no significant difference between the supplement and the placebo.
In neither group, maximum ATP production improved considerably between baseline and four months, as measured by magnetic resonance spectroscopy.
The researchers found that Urolithin A was associated with a significant decline in the number of acylcarnitines and ceramides implicated in their participation in mitochondrial metabolic illnesses after examining blood samples taken at two months and four months from the members of the test cohort.
Marcinek stated, “These results are nonetheless intriguing since they suggest that supplementation for a brief period of time improves muscular endurance.” In the absence of physical activity, fatigue resistance improved.
“These alterations indicate that the therapy influences the metabolic health of individuals. Even while it did not affect the highest ATP generation, it benefited the overall metabolism of the test participants,” stated Marcinek.
He stated that urolithin A supplements might benefit individuals who cannot exercise due to poor muscular health or sickness.
“Just getting them to the point where they can exercise, like taking a walk around the block or climbing some stairs, could help them get healthier.”