Display Settings:


Send to:

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Proc Nutr Soc. 2007 Aug;66(3):378-83.

Protein and the critically ill; do we know what to give?

Author information

  • 1Institute of Human Nutrition, University of Southampton, Mailpoint 113, F level, Centre Block, Southampton General Hospital, Tremona Road, Southampton SO16 6YD, UK. mas1@soton.ac.uk


The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) has recommended that nutrition support in seriously-ill or injured patients should start at 50% of the estimated target energy and protein needs. This recommendation has caused some concern, since taking the NICE approach leads to these sick individuals receiving an initial N provision of only 0.12 g N/kg per d, as opposed to levels of approximately 0.25 g N/kg per d that have been widely recommended by other expert groups. The basis of the recommendation for higher levels of N provision is that feeding at levels of >/=0.25 g N/kg per d reduces the inevitable net N loss of catabolism and hence minimises overall lean tissue wasting. However, although it has always been assumed that better N balance must equate with better outcome, there are teleological arguments that question the wisdom of providing more N to sicker patients and studies that imply that best N balance might not equate with best clinical progress. Furthermore, current evidence suggests that in most critical illness low initial intakes of both energy and N lead to improved survival. It therefore seems logical to aim, in the first instance, to feed the seriously ill at only modest levels. Further research is required to determine whether lower-energy higher-N feeding would prove better or worse than this approach in terms of clinical benefit rather than just better N retention. Investigations to explore the use of feeds that are specifically designed to match the amino acid needs of illness are also required.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Icon for Cambridge University Press
    Loading ...
    Write to the Help Desk