Protein requirements in healthy adults: a meta-analysis of nitrogen balance studies

Biomed Environ Sci. 2014 Aug;27(8):606-13. doi: 10.3967/bes2014.093.


Objective: The goal of this study was to analyze protein requirements in healthy adults through a meta-analysis of nitrogen balance studies.

Methods: A comprehensive search for nitrogen balance studies of healthy adults published up to October 2012 was performed, each study were reviewed, and data were abstracted. The studies were first evaluated for heterogeneity. The average protein requirements were analyzed by using the individual data of each included studies. Study site climate, age, sex, and dietary protein source were compared.

Results: Data for 348 subjects were gathered from 28 nitrogen balance studies. The natural logarithm of requirement for 348 individuals had a normal distribution with a mean of 4.66. The estimated average requirement was the exponentiation of the mean of the log requirement, 105.64 mg N/kg•d. No significant differences between adult age, source of dietary protein were observed. But there was significant difference between sex and the climate of the study site (P<0.05).

Conclusion: The estimated average requirement and recommended nutrient intake of the healthy adult population was 105.64 mg N/kg•d (0.66 g high quality protein/kg•d) and 132.05 mg N/kg•d (0.83 g high quality protein/kg•d), respectively.

Keywords: Estimated average requirement; Nitrogen balance; Protein requirement; Recommended nutrient intake.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Dietary Proteins*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Nitrogen / metabolism*
  • Nutritional Requirements*


  • Dietary Proteins
  • Nitrogen