Magazine article Work & Family Life

Potassium-Rich Foods Keep Muscles Strong

Magazine article Work & Family Life

Potassium-Rich Foods Keep Muscles Strong

Article excerpt

Nutrition researchers at Tufts University have found that potassium-rich foods from plants can help us maintain muscle strength as we get older.

Most of us are well aware of the health benefits of vegetables and fruits, but we may not appreciate their role in keeping our muscles strong. This is important because the loss of muscle mass with aging leads to conditions such as sarcopenia that are associated with an increased risk of falls.

Tufts researchers analyzed data from a group of male and female volunteers 65 and older who completed a three-year osteoporosis intervention study. The subjects who fared best in terms of their muscle mass were those whose diets were richer in potassium. The study was published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

The typical U.S. diet is rich in protein, cereal grains and other foods that generate tiny amounts of acid daily. With aging, this slowly increasing "metabolic acidosis" triggers a muscle-wasting response, according to the Tufts study.

Potassium is the third most abundant mineral in the body. In addition to its role with muscle mass, it's required for healthy functioning of the heart, kidneys and brain. It also helps keep the body hydrated. …

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