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Ann Nutr Metab. 2019;74(3):242-250. doi: 10.1159/000499374. Epub 2019 Mar 22.

Revised Reference Values for the Intake of Protein.

Author information

German Nutrition Society, Bonn, Germany,
Ostschweizer Kinderspital St. Gallen, St. Gallen, Switzerland.
Agaples Bethanien Hospital, University of Heidelberg, Heidelberg, Germany.
Department of Nutrition Sciences, University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria.
German Nutrition Society, Bonn, Germany.
Department of Sports and Health, University of Paderborn, Paderborn, Germany.
Department of Agriculture and Nutritional Sciences, University Halle-Wittenberg, Halle, Germany.
Department for Biomedicine of Aging, University of Erlangen/Nürnberg, Nürnberg, Germany.
Department of Nutrition and Food Sciences, University of Bonn, Bonn, Germany.



Following a timely update process, the nutrition societies of Germany, Austria, and Switzerland (D-A-CH) revised the reference values for the intake of protein in 2017. The Working Group conducted a structured literature search in PubMed considering newly published papers (2000- 2017).


For infants < 4 months, the estimated values were set based on the protein intake via breast milk. Reference values for infants > 4 months, children, adolescents, pregnant, and lactating women were calculated using the factorial method considering both requirement for growth and maintenance. For adults, reference values were derived from nitrogen balance studies; for seniors (> 65 years), reports on metabolic and functional parameters under various protein intakes were additionally considered. Reference -values (g protein/kg body weight per day) were set as follows: infants  < 4 months: 2.5-1.4, children: 1.3-0.8, adults < 65 years: 0.8, adults > 65 years: 1.0. Key Messages: The reference values for infants, children, adolescents, and adults < 65 years are essentially unchanged compared to recently published values. Scientifically reliable data published between 2000 and 2017 guided the D-A-CH Working Group to set a higher estimated value for adults > 65 years. Since the energy consumption continuously decreases with age, this new estimated protein intake value might be a challenge for the introduction of food-based nutrition concepts for older people.


Elderly; Indispensable amino acids; Protein; Protein requirement; Reference value

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