Protein Consumption and the Elderly: What Is the Optimal Level of Intake?

Nutrients. 2016 Jun 8;8(6):359. doi: 10.3390/nu8060359.


Maintaining independence, quality of life, and health is crucial for elderly adults. One of the major threats to living independently is the loss of muscle mass, strength, and function that progressively occurs with aging, known as sarcopenia. Several studies have identified protein (especially the essential amino acids) as a key nutrient for muscle health in elderly adults. Elderly adults are less responsive to the anabolic stimulus of low doses of amino acid intake compared to younger individuals. However, this lack of responsiveness in elderly adults can be overcome with higher levels of protein (or essential amino acid) consumption. The requirement for a larger dose of protein to generate responses in elderly adults similar to the responses in younger adults provides the support for a beneficial effect of increased protein in older populations. The purpose of this review is to present the current evidence related to dietary protein intake and muscle health in elderly adults.

Keywords: aging; anabolic response; elderly; muscle; protein; protein synthesis; requirements.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aging / physiology*
  • Amino Acids, Essential
  • Dietary Proteins / administration & dosage*
  • Energy Intake*
  • Humans
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiology*
  • Nutritional Requirements*


  • Amino Acids, Essential
  • Dietary Proteins