Good sources of protein include meat, fish, eggs, dairy products, lentils and other beans, nuts, tofu and quinoa. (For Spectrum Health Beat)

Researchers seeking the elusive fountain of youth are shining the spotlight on protein.

Eating more protein may reduce seniors’ risk of disability and help them remain independent longer, a new British study suggests.

Dietary protein slows the age-related loss of muscle mass, helping to preserve the ability to do everyday tasks, the researchers said.

“Our findings support current thinking about increasing the recommended daily intake of protein to maintain active and healthy aging,” said principal author Nuno Mendonca, of Newcastle University.

His team analyzed data from more than 700 people in two U.K. cities who turned 85 in 2006. More than one-quarter (28 percent) had protein intakes below the recommended dietary allowance.

Over five years of follow-up, the participants who ate more protein at the study’s start were less likely to become disabled than those who ate less protein, the study found.

The findings were published recently in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

Older adults should eat about 1 gram of protein for every 2.2 pounds of body weight, Mendonca said in a journal news release.

That means someone weighing 160 pounds would require about 58 grams of protein a day. A 3.5-ounce serving of chicken contains about 31 grams of protein, he said.

Good sources of protein include meat, fish, eggs, dairy products, lentils and other beans, nuts, tofu and quinoa.