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PLoS One. 2018 Dec 12;13(12):e0208169. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0208169. eCollection 2018.

Age threshold for recommending higher protein intake to prevent age-related muscle weakness: A cross-sectional study in Japan.

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Department of Social and Preventive Epidemiology, School of Public Health, The University of Tokyo, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo, Japan.
Departments of Health and Social Behavior, School of Public Health, The University of Tokyo, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo, Japan.


Although insufficient dietary protein intake is a known risk factor for age-related muscle weakness, the optimal age at which higher protein intake is required to prevent muscle weakness is yet to be determined. Using a population-based panel survey of community-dwelling people aged 50-75 years, this cross-sectional study aimed to find the age threshold at which a higher protein intake is associated with higher muscle strength. We utilized a dataset from the Japanese Study of Aging and Retirement conducted between 2007 and 2011. Dietary protein intake was estimated using a validated dietary questionnaire and energy-adjusted via density method. Grip strength was measured using a Smedley-type handheld dynamometer. We calculated the marginal effect (and 95% confidence intervals) of protein intake on grip strength with stratification by age using multiple linear regression analyses with robust variance adjusting for potential confounders. There were 9,485 observations from 5,790 participants in the final analysis. Marginal effects of protein intake on grip strength increased with age, and it reached significance and had a positive impact only among men aged ≥75 years and women aged ≥65 years. With an additional 1% energy of protein intake, grip strength was increased by 0.10 kg and 0.19 kg for men and women aged ≥75 years, respectively. Our result indicated the possibility that women needed a high protein intake from a younger age compared with men. Further studies are needed to clarify from when a higher protein intake is recommended to prevent muscle weakness.

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