Low Intake of Choline Is Associated with Diminished Strength and Lean Mass Gains in Older Adults

Objectives: Choline is an essential micronutrient for many physiological processes related to exercise training including biosynthesis of acetylcholine. Though dietary choline intake has been studied in relation to endurance training and performance, none have studied it during resistance exercise training (RET) in older adults. The objective of the study was to examine the relationship between choline intake and muscle responses to RET in older adults.

Methods: Forty-six, 60-69-year-old individuals (M=19, F=27) underwent 12 weeks of RET (3x/week, 3 sets, 8-12 reps, 75% of maximum strength [1RM], 8 exercises). Body composition (DEXA) and 1RM tests were performed before and after training. After analysing 1,656 diet logs (3x/week, 46 participants, 12 weeks), participants' mean choline intakes were categorized into three groups: Low (2.9-5.5 mg/kg lean/d), Med-Low (5.6-8.0 mg/kg lean/d), or Adequate (8.1-10.6 mg/kg lean/d). These correspond to <50%, ~63%, and ~85% of Adequate Intake (AI) for choline, respectively.

Results: Gains in composite strength (leg press + chest press 1RM) were significantly lower in the Low group compared with the other groups (Low: 30.9 ± 15.1%, Med-Low: 70.3 ± 48.5%, Adequate: 81.9 ± 68.4%; p=0.004). ANCOVA with cholesterol, protein, or other nutrients did not alter this result. Reduced gains in lean mass were also observed in the Low group, compared with higher choline intake of 5.6-10.6 mg/kg lean/d (1.3 ± 0.6% vs. 3.2 ± 0.6%, p<0.05).

Conclusion: These data suggest that this population of older adults does not consume adequate choline and lower choline intake is negatively and independently associated with muscle responses to RET.

Keywords: Sarcopenia; exercise; muscle; nutrition; resistance training.

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