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Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2008 Feb;48(2):177-84. doi: 10.1080/10408390701279749.

Converting nitrogen into protein--beyond 6.25 and Jones' factors.

Author information

1
AgroParisTech, INRA, UMR914 Nutrition Physiology and Ingestive Behavior, Paris, France. francois.mariotti@agroparistech.fr

Abstract

The protein content in foodstuffs is estimated by multiplying the determined nitrogen content by a nitrogen-to-protein conversion factor. Jones' factors for a series of foodstuffs, including 6.25 as the standard, default conversion factor, have now been used for 75 years. This review provides a brief history of these factors and their underlying paradigm, with an insight into what is meant by "protein." We also review other compelling data on specific conversion factors which may have been overlooked. On the one hand, when 6.25 is used irrespective of the foodstuff, "protein" is simply nitrogen expressed using a different unit and says little about protein (s.s.). On the other hand, conversion factors specific to foodstuffs, such as those provided by Jones, are scientifically flawed. However, the nitrogen:protein ratio does vary according to the foodstuff considered. Therefore, from a scientific point of view, it would be reasonable not to apply current specific factors any longer, but they have continued to be used because scientists fear opening the Pandora's box. But because conversion factors are critical to enabling the simple conversion of determined nitrogen values into protein values and thus accurately evaluating the quantity and the quality of protein in foodstuffs, we propose a set of specific conversion factors for different foodstuffs, together with a default conversion factor (5.6). This would be far more accurate and scientifically sound, and preferable when specifically expressing nitrogen as protein. These factors are of particular importance when "protein" basically means "amino acids," this being the principal nutritional viewpoint.

PMID:
18274971
DOI:
10.1080/10408390701279749
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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