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J Am Coll Nutr. 2004 Dec;23(6 Suppl):627S-630S.

Protein and older adults.

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  • 1Geriatric Research Education and Clinical Center, Central Arkansas Veterans Healthcare System, Little Rock, USA. chernoffronni@uams.edu

Abstract

Body composition changes as people get older. One of the noteworthy alterations is the reduction in total body protein. A decrease in skeletal muscle is the most noticeable manifestation of this change but there is also a reduction in other physiologic proteins such as organ tissue, blood components, and immune bodies as well as declines in total body potassium and water. This contributes to impaired wound healing, loss of skin elasticity, and an inability to fight infection. The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for adults for protein is 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. Protein tissue accounts for 30% of whole-body protein turnover but that rate declines to 20% or less by age 70. The result of this phenomenon is that older adults require more protein/kilogram body weight than do younger adults. Recently, it has become clear that the requirement for exogenous protein is at least 1.0 gram/kilogram body weight. Adequate dietary intake of protein may be more difficult for older adults to obtain. Dietary animal protein is the primary source of high biological value protein, iron, vitamin B(12), folic acid, biotin and other essential nutrients. In fact, egg protein is the standard against which all other proteins are compared. Compared to other high-quality protein sources like meat, poultry and seafood, eggs are the least expensive. The importance of dietary protein cannot be underestimated in the diets of older adults; inadequate protein intake contributes to a decrease in reserve capacity, increased skin fragility, decreased immune function, poorer healing, and longer recuperation from illness.

PMID:
15640517
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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