Background. Whole-body 40K counting is a valuable tool for assessing cellular changes in body composition with ageing. Aim: The objectives of this study were to assess total body potassium (TBK) and body cell mass (BCM) differences with age, and to compare TBK and BCM between individuals with a body mass index (BMI) < 25 kg m-2 versus > 25 kg m -2. Subjects and methods: Body composition of 840 healthy Italian men, 18-70 years of age, was measured by whole-body counting of 40K. BCM (kg) was calculated as 0.00833 x TBK (mmol). Results: Body weight did not differ among groups. TBK, TBK/height, TBK/body weight, and BCM were significantly lower for the 51-70-year-old group compared with all other groups. The 51-70-year-old group with a BMI < 25 kg m-2 had significantly lower TBK, TBK/height, and BCM than all other decades with a BMI < 25 kg m-2; whereas TBK/body weight was significantly lower than the 18-30 and 31-40-year-old groups. The 51-70-year-old group with a BMI > 25 kgm -2 had significantly lower TBK, TBK/height, TBK/body weight, and BCM than all other decades with a BMI > 25 kg m-2. Conclusion: TBK and BCM decrease significantly with ageing, which could result in decreased functional capacity in older adults.
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