Dietary protein intake in elderly women: association with muscle and bone mass

Nutr Clin Pract. 2015 Apr;30(2):283-9. doi: 10.1177/0884533614545404. Epub 2014 Aug 8.


Background: An inadequate food intake, mainly with regard to protein intake, seems to contribute to a reduction of skeletal muscle and bone mass in the elderly. This study was undertaken to evaluate differences in protein intake in women with or without sarcopenia and verify the intake level that is related to a better bone and muscle mass.

Methods: Elderly women older than 65 years with sarcopenia (n = 35) and without sarcopenia (n = 165) participated in the study. Assessment of bone mineral density of the lumbar spine and femur was taken, body composition was evaluated by dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry, and an evaluation of protein intake was performed through 3-day dietary records.

Results: Muscle, bone, and fat mass was significantly higher in women who had protein intake >1.2 g/kg/d. A lower intake of essential amino acids in women with sarcopenia was also observed. Protein and energy intake were significant predictors of muscle mass. The presence of osteoporosis was a predictor of muscle strength. In conclusion, the present study demonstrated that in elderly women, an adequate protein intake in terms of quality and quantity, without need of supplementation, could have a positive impact on bone mineral density, lean mass, and skeletal muscle mass.

Keywords: aged; body composition; dietary proteins; elderly; essential amino acids; osteoporosis; protein intake; sarcopenia.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Body Composition
  • Bone Density / physiology*
  • Diet Records
  • Dietary Proteins / administration & dosage*
  • Dietary Proteins / metabolism
  • Energy Intake
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Muscle Strength / physiology
  • Muscle, Skeletal / metabolism
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiopathology*
  • Osteoporosis / etiology*
  • Osteoporosis / physiopathology
  • Sarcopenia / etiology*
  • Sarcopenia / metabolism


  • Dietary Proteins