Dietary Protein Intake Is Protective Against Loss of Grip Strength Among Older Adults in the Framingham Offspring Cohort

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Abstract

Background:

Age-related decline in muscle strength is an important public health issue for older adults. Dietary protein has been associated with maintenance of muscle mass, yet its relation to muscle strength remains unclear.

Methods:

We determined the association of dietary protein (total, animal, and plant) intake, measured by food frequency questionnaire, with change in grip strength over 6 years in 1,746 men and women from the Framingham Offspring cohort.

Results:

Mean age at baseline was 58.7 years (range: 29–85), and mean total, animal, and plant protein intakes were 79, 57, and 22g/d, respectively. Adjusted baseline mean grip strength did not differ across quartiles of energy-adjusted total, animal or protein intake. Greater protein intake, regardless of source, was associated with less decrease in grip strength (all p for trend ≤.05): participants in the lowest quartiles lost 0.17% to 0.27% per year while those in the highest quartiles gained 0.52% to 0.60% per year. In analyses stratified by age, participants aged 60 years or older (n = 646) had similar linear trends on loss of grip strength for total and animal (all p for trend <.03) but not plant protein, while the trends in participants younger than 60 years (n = 896) were not statistically significant.

Conclusions:

Higher dietary intakes of total and animal protein were protective against loss of grip strength in community-dwelling adults aged 60 years and older. Increasing intake of protein from these sources may help maintain muscle strength and support prevention of mobility impairment in older adults.

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