Muscle types and function in the body
The health of your muscles is important to your quality of life at every age. There are three types of muscle in your body:
Skeletal muscle- this type of muscle is under your conscious control and is responsible for movement. Skeletal muscle is attached to bone and collectively forms the musculoskeletal system.
Smooth muscle- otherwise known as involuntary muscle, this type of muscle operates without conscious control. Smooth muscle is located in your digestive system to assist breaking down food, and the respiratory system to help you continuously breathe.
Cardiac muscle- as defined by the name, this is found in the heart and supports the functioning of the circulatory system.
Nutrients that support muscle health
Protein and amino acids
The health and strength of your muscles may benefit from a diet high in protein. Good sources of protein include assorted meats such as beef, chicken and fish, dairy products, eggs and nuts. Protein is rich in amino acids, also known as the building blocks of life. There are 20 types of amino acids that join to make different types of protein. Amino acids can be classified as essential and non-essential. Non-essential amino acids can be made by the body whereas essential amino acids must be obtained by the diet or supplementation. There are 8 essential and 12 non-essential amino acids, all of which play a part in making up connective tissue including muscles. For example, L Glutamine is an amino acid stored in skeletal muscle that helps to maintain healthy muscle function and preserve muscle levels after exercise. This may be beneficial to those who want to support their muscle health during and after strenuous exercise.
Magnesium is a mineral that is involved in over 300 chemical reactions in your body. Magnesium plays many vital roles in your body from maintaining a health nervous system to supporting the health of bones and teeth. Magnesium helps to maintain normal muscle contraction and relaxation. This can be important for those seeking relief of muscle cramps and spasms where a magnesium deficiency is present. Magnesium may also be helpful for woman seeking relief of menstrual cramps. Magnesium helps to maintain a healthy heart by supporting healthy heart muscle function and rhythm in healthy individuals.
It’s important to remember that nutritional demands may change as a result of physical, emotional and lifestyle factors. For example, exercise increases the body’s requirements for magnesium therefore supplementing with magnesium during these periods may help maintain exercise performance. See Herbs of Gold Magnesium Forte
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin usually produced by your body when your skin is exposed to sunlight. A deficiency in vitamin D is common in Australia with over 30% of the population suffering from some type of vitamin D deficiency. This usually occurs in people have little or no exposure to sunlight. Vitamin D is important for muscles as it helps to maintain muscle strength. This is particularly relevant in our ageing population as increasing muscle strength may reduce the risk of falls in the elderly.