Dietary protein is beneficial to bone health under conditions of adequate calcium intake: an update on clinical research

Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care. 2014 Jan;17(1):69-74. doi: 10.1097/MCO.0000000000000013.


Purpose of review: To underscore recent clinical studies, which evaluate the association between dietary protein and bone health.

Recent findings: Epidemiologic studies show greater protein intake to be beneficial to bone health in adults. In addition, randomized controlled trials show that protein's positive effect on bone health is augmented by increased calcium intake. The relation between dietary protein and fracture risk is unclear. Dietary protein may positively impact bone health by increasing muscle mass, increasing calcium absorption, suppressing parathyroid hormone, and augmenting insulin-like growth factor 1 production; but the effects of other factors that contribute to this association, such as dietary protein dose and timing response, require further research.

Summary: The positive effects of protein intake on bone health may only be beneficial under conditions of adequate calcium intake. Dietary protein's relation with fracture risk requires further investigation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Bone and Bones / drug effects*
  • Bone and Bones / metabolism
  • Calcium, Dietary / administration & dosage*
  • Dietary Proteins / administration & dosage*
  • Fractures, Bone / prevention & control
  • Humans
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor I / metabolism
  • Meta-Analysis as Topic
  • Parathyroid Hormone / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Parathyroid Hormone / metabolism
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic


  • Calcium, Dietary
  • Dietary Proteins
  • Parathyroid Hormone
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor I