BU researcher to study supplement’s benefits to older people

For immediate release: Feb. 6, 2008

BLOOMSBURG — Can a dietary supplement often used by elite athletes improve the lives of older adults?

That is what Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania researcher Eric Rawson seeks to determine in a new study funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. Rawson was awarded a $208,577 grant from the NIH, the first of its kind that BU has received.

“I’ve always been fascinated with how nutrition can influence human performance. My interest in dietary supplements began with the goal of building the better athlete,” said Rawson. “Ultimately, I realized that a dietary supplement that increases strength and muscle mass in young healthy athletes could offer benefits to another segment of the population.

“We’re not all going to be world-class athletes,” he said “But we are all going to get older.”

Rawson researches the dietary supplement creatine with emphasis over the past 10 years on dietary interventions to improve muscle mass and strength in older individuals. “Creatine is a naturally occurring substance found in food, particularly meat products,” said Rawson. “It's a natural part of what you eat.”

Creatine supplements have been tested in hundreds of trials and have been found both safe and effective, according to Rawson. “Why give creatine only to the biggest, strongest and fastest when you can combat aging nutritionally and help people who have lost muscle mass and strength with aging.”

Rawson noted that decreased muscle strength diminishes people’s quality of life as they age and recently, creatine supplements have been shown to improve memory and reaction time. “A dietary intervention that could improve muscle mass, memory, and reaction could have a substantial impact on the quality of life of older adults,” said Rawson.

Men and women over 65 years of age who are interested in participating in the new study should contact Rawson at (570) 389-5368 or by e-mail at bloomresearch@yahoo.com. Rawson is seeking 50 individuals to take part. Subjects will take a standard dose of creatine over a six-week period and undergo tests of strength, memory and reaction time pre- and post-supplementation.

Rawson has published 17 research articles on creatine and other dietary supplements, and has lectured on the effects of creatine supplementation at sports science conferences in the U.S. and international congresses in Bangkok and Greece. He will be aided in the NIH study by Mehdi Razzaghi, professor of mathematics, computer science and statistics and Christopher Still, director of the Center for Nutrition and Weight Management at Geisinger Medical Center.

Bloomsburg University is one of 14 universities in the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education. The university serves approximately 8,000 students, offering comprehensive programs of study in the colleges of Professional Studies, Business, Liberal Arts and Science and Technology.