By - James Smith
Protein's Vital Role: Protein is crucial for various bodily functions, including muscle and bone building, collagen formation, digestion, and immune system support, according to Glenda Courtney-Martin, a nutrition scientist.
Changing Protein Needs: Protein requirements vary throughout life, influenced by age, body size, and other factors, says Stuart Phillips, a muscle physiologist.
Childhood Protein Requirements: Infants, children, and teenagers need more protein per pound of body weight. Children 7 to 12 months of age need 0.54 grams of protein.
Adolescent Protein Gaps: A significant percentage of 14- to 18-year-old girls fall short of recommended protein intake, possibly due to dietary choices and restrictive eating habits.
Adulthood Maintenance: Around age 17 or 18, protein needs become more about maintenance as growth slows. The federal guideline for adults is 0.36 grams of protein per pound.
Adult Protein Intake Discrepancies: While most adults meet protein recommendations, certain groups like athletes and pregnant or breastfeeding women may need up to double the recommended amount.
Older Adults and Protein: Older adults (65 and above) may benefit from a slightly higher protein intake (0.45 to 0.54 grams per pound) to combat muscle loss and support recovery from illness or surgery.
Muscle Loss in Aging: Beyond 50, muscle mass loss increases the risk of falls, fractures, and earlier death. Adequate protein intake becomes crucial, especially as ageing muscles become less efficient at utilizing protein.
Protein Challenges in Older Age: Lack of physical activity, reduced appetite, and difficulty affording or preparing protein-rich foods contribute to protein shortfalls in older adults.
Smart Protein Choices for Seniors: Yogurt and eggs are recommended for their simplicity and protein richness. Paying attention to protein intake at breakfast is essential for older adults, offering alternatives beyond traditional options like a breakfast burrito with eggs, beans, and cheese.