Protein is important for strong bones and muscles. It provides the body with a source of essential amino acids necessary for health.
It is especially important for young people to eat enough protein-rich foods so their bones develop and grow optimally.
For athletes and those who exercise multiple times per week, higher protein intakes help muscles repair and grow.
In seniors, protein plays a role in preserving bone and muscle. Lack of protein robs the muscles of strength, which increases the risk of falls, and contributes to poor recovery in patients who have had a fracture.
WHICH FOODS CONTAIN PROTEIN?
Lean red meat, poultry and fish, as well as eggs and dairy foods, are excellent sources of animal protein. Vegetable sources of protein include legumes (e.g. lentils, kidney beans), soya products (e.g. tofu), grains, nuts and seeds.
People over 65 should eat 1.0 to 1.2 grams of protein per kilogram of bodyweight (or 0.45 grams to 0.55 grams per pound). This is more protein than needed by adults under 65. Poor protein intake is often related to undernutrition and low body weight.
The ideal body mass index (BMI) should be between 20–25 kg/m2, and a BMI below 19 kg/m2 is a risk factor for osteoporosis.
Use our healthy body weight calculator to see if you are at risk.
DEBUNKING THE ACID-LOAD CLAIM
Many people have read claims that high protein intake, including drinking milk, may cause increased calcium loss via the kidneys and therefore is bad for bone health. This claim has been disproved in many studies.
WHAT ARE THE BEST SOURCES OF PROTEIN FOR BONE HEALTH?
Both plant and animal sources of protein promote strong bones and muscles. Milk and dairy products, as part of a balanced diet, are excellent sources of calcium, protein and other nutrients.