Dietary animal protein intake: association with muscle mass index in older women.J Nutr Health Aging 2007 Sep-Oct; 11(5):383-7JN
Aging is associated with reductions in muscle mass and strength, so-called sarcopenia, and is generally characterized using muscle mass index (MMI = FFM (kg)/height (m)2). It is believed that adequate nutrition especially regarding protein intake, can delay this progression and enhance the quality of life of elders.
We examined whether the predominant source of protein consumed (animal or vegetal) by older women was associated with MMI.
Thirty-eight healthy, normal weight, sedentary women, aged between 57-75 years (mean age: 66 +/- 5 years old), and taking no medication that could influence metabolism were recruited. Body composition was measured by dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry; muscle protein content was measured by the use of creatinine excretion. Physical activity metabolism was obtained by the use of accelerometry, and indirect calorimetry. Finally, protein intake was measured with a 3-day dietary record.
Significant correlations were observed between MMI and body mass index, fat-free mass, muscle protein content, total protein intake, animal protein intake, fat mass, visceral fat and daily energy expenditure. However, a stepwise regression analysis showed animal protein intake to be the only independent predictor of MMI (r2=0.19; p=0.008).
Our results suggest that protein intake, especially from animal sources, may be associated with a better preservation of MMI. However, more research is needed to confirm our results.