Role of dietary protein in the sarcopenia of aging

Am J Clin Nutr. 2008 May;87(5):1562S-1566S. doi: 10.1093/ajcn/87.5.1562S.


Sarcopenia is a complex, multifactorial process facilitated by a combination of factors including the adoption of a more sedentary lifestyle and a less than optimal diet. Increasing evidence points to a blunted anabolic response after a mixed nutrient meal as a likely explanation for chronic age-related muscle loss. There is currently insufficient longer-term research with defined health outcomes to specify an optimal value for protein ingestion in elderly individuals. However, there is general agreement that moderately increasing daily protein intake beyond 0.8 g x kg(-1) x d(-1) may enhance muscle protein anabolism and provide a means of reducing the progressive loss of muscle mass with age. The beneficial effects of resistance exercise in aging populations are unequivocal. However, research has not identified a synergistic effect of protein supplementation and resistance exercise in aging populations. There is little evidence that links high protein intakes to increased risk for impaired kidney function in healthy individuals. However, renal function decreases with age, and high protein intake is contraindicated in individuals with renal disease. Assessment of renal function is recommended for older individuals before they adopt a higher-protein diet.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aging* / physiology
  • Dietary Proteins / administration & dosage*
  • Dietary Proteins / standards
  • Exercise / physiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Kidney / drug effects*
  • Kidney / physiology
  • Kidney Function Tests
  • Male
  • Muscle, Skeletal / drug effects*
  • Muscle, Skeletal / metabolism
  • Muscular Atrophy / prevention & control*
  • Nutritional Requirements


  • Dietary Proteins