Study: Spinach extract can boost muscle mass in older adults

By Nicola Gordon-Seymour

- Last updated on GMT

© Getty Images
© Getty Images

Related tags spinach Muscle muscle mass

Daily intake of spinach extract can improve muscle quality and strength in adults over the age of 50 and may improve physical and emotional health when combined with moderate exercise.

Scientists postulate that taking a natural spinach supplement may exert an ‘all-body strengthening’​ adaptogenic activity and help mitigate some manifestations of age-related skeletal muscle mass decline by maintaining muscle health, which is crucial to healthy ageing.

Combining supplementation with moderate exercise increases the physical benefits and boosts emotional wellbeing, they say.

Results from a Spanish study demonstrate that combining supplementation with exercise improves overall muscle fitness compared to subjects in the placebo and not consuming spinach extract. Both muscle strength and quality improved and a significant decrease in fat mass was also observed in both groups.

“In our opinion, gains in muscle quality in the intervention group is very positive. Better muscle quality is an important contributor of muscle health and healthy ageing,” ​the authors comment.

Preserving muscle health

Adults begin to lose muscle mass as they grow older due to natural physiological processes and reduced mobility, but muscle degradation could be reduced by improving skeletal muscle fitness, say the authors of a recent study.

Evidence suggests that an active lifestyle supported by appropriate dietary nutrition is crucial to preserve strong, healthy, skeletal muscles.

Preserving muscle health is imperative for the maintenance of functional independency and quality of life, the scientists say.

“Exercise and physical activity are countermeasures against muscle aging and have been shown to attenuate age-related decreases in skeletal muscle performance​.”

They explain that there is growing awareness of the benefits of resistance training to boost muscle strength and endurance and improve the physical fitness and functional performance of older people.

Diet is another recognised factor that impacts muscle health and spinach has been shown to increase strength and muscle mass during resistance training. It also reduces fatigue and facilitates recovery, the authors write.

Study analysis

The study aim was to assess the impact of natural spinach supplementation and exercise on skeletal muscle fitness.

Subjects aged 50 and over consumed 500mg capsules of the natural spinach extract, Spinacia oleracea L., ​four times per day for 12 weeks, combined with one hour moderate-intensity training sessions three times a week. The placebo group comprised 22 subjects who followed the same exercise regime but without supplementation.

Muscle strength was analysed using isokinetic and isometric dynamometry, with improvements observed in both groups.

The 23 subjects assigned to the active product group showed greater improvements in muscle function than the placebo, and improved muscle quality. This suggests consumption of spinach extract produced a higher increase in muscle quality than that associated with physical training without supplementation, the authors write.

Similar results were observed for muscle quality and improvements in physical and emotional health were attributed to the physical training.

The relative improvement in upper body strength was greater in women, whereas greater hypertrophy and low-body strength was note in male participants.


Limitations of the study include the exploratory nature of the trial, the reduced sample size, and the treatment period of only 12 weeks. All female participants were postmenopausal women, but the use of hormone replacement treatment was not specifically recorded as an exclusion criterion.

Potential gender differences in muscle-related variables are an aspect that may be evaluated in further studies, because of the small number of men included in the present exploratory analysis.

The scientists conclude: “Muscle strength training combined with food supplementation strategies seems to increase the benefits and become a doubly effective intervention to promote healthy aging in adults over 50 years of age​.”


Source: Nutrients

Published online: https://

A 12-Week Randomized Double-Blind Placebo-Controlled Clinical Trial, Evaluating the Effect of Supplementation with a Spinach Extract on Skeletal Muscle Fitness in Adults Older Than 50 Years of Age’

Related topics Research Botanicals Healthy ageing

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