Minerals and Sarcopenia; The Role of Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Potassium, Selenium, Sodium, and Zinc on Muscle Mass, Muscle Strength, and Physical Performance in Older Adults: A Systematic Review

J Am Med Dir Assoc. 2018 Jan;19(1):6-11.e3. doi: 10.1016/j.jamda.2017.05.026. Epub 2017 Jul 12.


Introduction: Minerals may contribute to prevent and treat sarcopenia, the age-related loss of muscle mass, muscle strength, and physical performance. So far, there is no comprehensive review on the impact of minerals on sarcopenia outcomes. The aim of this systematic review is to evaluate the role of calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, selenium, sodium, and zinc on muscle mass, muscle strength, and physical performance in older adults.

Methods: A systematic search was conducted between March 2016 and July 2016, in the PubMed database using predefined search terms. Articles on the role of dietary mineral intake or mineral serum concentrations on muscle mass, muscle strength, physical performance, and/or the prevalence of sarcopenia in healthy or frail older adults (average age ≥ 65 years) were selected. Only original research publications were included. The search and data extraction were conducted in duplicate by 2 independent researchers. The Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis (PRISMA) statement was followed in constructing this systematic review. The Effective Public Health Practice Project (EPHPP) Quality Assessment Tool for Quantitative Studies was used to evaluate the quality of the selected articles.

Results: From the 3346 articles found, a total of 10 studies met the inclusion criteria. Observational studies showed that serum selenium (n = 1) and calcium intake (n = 1) were significantly associated with muscle mass, and magnesium (n = 1), selenium (n = 1), iron (n = 1), and zinc (n = 1) intake were significantly and positively associated with physical performance in older adults. Furthermore, magnesium (n = 2), selenium (n = 2), calcium (n = 2), and phosphorus (n = 1) intake were associated with the prevalence of sarcopenia. Magnesium supplementation improved physical performance based on one randomized controlled trial. No studies on the role of sodium or potassium on muscle mass, muscle strength, or physical performance were found.

Conclusion: Minerals may be important nutrients to prevent and/or treat sarcopenia. Particularly, magnesium, selenium, and calcium seem to be most promising. Most of the included studies, however, were observational studies. Therefore, more randomized controlled trials are needed to elucidate the potential benefits of mineral intake to prevent and/or treat sarcopenia and support healthy aging.

Keywords: Aging; dietary intake; elderly; muscle; nutrition; sarcopenic.

Publication types

  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aging / metabolism*
  • Calcium / administration & dosage
  • Dietary Supplements*
  • Female
  • Geriatric Assessment
  • Humans
  • Iron / administration & dosage
  • Magnesium / administration & dosage
  • Male
  • Minerals / administration & dosage*
  • Muscle Strength / physiology*
  • Nutritional Status
  • Phosphorus / administration & dosage
  • Physical Functional Performance*
  • Potassium / administration & dosage
  • Sarcopenia / prevention & control*
  • Selenium / administration & dosage
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Zinc / administration & dosage


  • Minerals
  • Phosphorus
  • Iron
  • Selenium
  • Magnesium
  • Zinc
  • Potassium
  • Calcium