Sex- and race-specific associations of protein intake with change in muscle mass and physical function in older adults of the Health ABC Study
Liset E.M. Elstgeest, Laura A. Schaap, Martijn W. Heymans, Linda M. Hengeveld, Elke Naumann, Denise K. Houston, Stephen B. Kritchevsky, Eleanor M. Simonsick, Anne B. Newman, Samaneh Farsijani, Marjolein Visser, Hanneke A.H. Wijnhoven for the Health ABC Study
The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2020. doi.org/10.1093/ajcn/nqaa099
The current dietary guidelines recommend a protein intake of ≥0.8 g protein per kg body weight per day (g/kg BW/d), but experts propose a higher intake for older adults (1.0 to 1.2 g/kg BW/d). Since there are differences in body composition and hormonal milieu between sex and race, protein needs may also differ between men and women or blacks and whites. It is unknown whether optimal protein intake differs by sex or race.
We aimed to examine sex- and race-specific associations of dietary protein intake with 3- and 6-year changes in muscle mass and gait speed, and the development of mobility limitation during 6 years in US older men and women.
Data were from 2400 community-dwelling men and women aged 70-81 years and living in the areas of Memphis, TN, and Pittsburgh, PA (US), who participated in the Health, Aging, and Body Composition (Health ABC) Study.
We found that a higher protein intake was associated with less muscle mass loss over 3 years in women, specifically black women, but not over 6 years or with a decline in gait speed. In men, protein intake was not associated with changes in muscle mass and gait speed. A higher protein intake was associated with a lower risk of mobility limitation in both men and women, specifically white women. In conclusion, associations between protein intake and physical outcomes may vary by sex and race. Therefore, it is important to consider sex and race in future studies regarding protein needs in older adults.
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