In a new study, researchers found that adequate intake of protein is linked to a reduced risk of frailty.
Adequate protein intake is defined as at least 1.1 g per kg of body weight.
The research was conducted by a team from the University of Eastern Finland and Kuopio University Hospital.
Frailty is a condition common in older adults, and patients are at a higher risk of dependence and mobility loss, fall, fracture, and mortality.
Previous research has shown a strong link between frailty and malnutrition, and protein may be the most important nutrient at play, mostly through its effect on muscle health.
According to the Nordic Nutrition Recommendations, older adults need to have a protein intake of 1.1-1.3 g per kg of body weight as adequate for preserving physical capacity.
The recommended protein intake for an older person weighing 70 kg corresponds to a minimum intake of 77 g of protein.
In the new study, the team focused on the association of protein intake with frailty.
They examined associations between protein intake and protein sources with frailty status.
A total of 440 women aged 65─72 years enrolled in the Osteoporosis Risk Factor and Prevention–Fracture Prevention Study.
Their protein intake in g per kg of body weight was calculated using a three-day food record at baseline in 2003─2004.
At the three-year follow-up in 2006─2007, frailty was defined as the presence of three or more the Fried criteria: low grip strength, low walking speed, low physical activity, exhaustion, and weight loss of more than 5%.
The researchers found that getting the recommended amount of dietary protein was linked to a lower risk of frailty in older women.
Moreover, eating animal protein was linked to a lower risk of frailty.
The researchers suggest that older people need to eat an optimal diet with an adequate intake of protein.
Adequate protein intake is important for muscle health and may also prevent frailty.
One author of the study is Senior Lecturer Arja Erkkilä from the University of Eastern Finland.
The study is published in the European Journal of Nutrition.
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