Revised Reference Values for the Intake of Protein

Ann Nutr Metab. 2019;74(3):242-250. doi: 10.1159/000499374. Epub 2019 Mar 22.


Background: Following a timely update process, the nutrition societies of Germany, Austria, and Switzerland (D-A-CH) revised the reference values for the intake of protein in 2017. The Working Group conducted a structured literature search in PubMed considering newly published papers (2000- 2017).

Summary: For infants < 4 months, the estimated values were set based on the protein intake via breast milk. Reference values for infants > 4 months, children, adolescents, pregnant, and lactating women were calculated using the factorial method considering both requirement for growth and maintenance. For adults, reference values were derived from nitrogen balance studies; for seniors (> 65 years), reports on metabolic and functional parameters under various protein intakes were additionally considered. Reference -values (g protein/kg body weight per day) were set as follows: infants < 4 months: 2.5-1.4, children: 1.3-0.8, adults < 65 years: 0.8, adults > 65 years: 1.0. Key Messages: The reference values for infants, children, adolescents, and adults < 65 years are essentially unchanged compared to recently published values. Scientifically reliable data published between 2000 and 2017 guided the D-A-CH Working Group to set a higher estimated value for adults > 65 years. Since the energy consumption continuously decreases with age, this new estimated protein intake value might be a challenge for the introduction of food-based nutrition concepts for older people.

Keywords: Elderly; Indispensable amino acids; Protein; Protein requirement; Reference value.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Austria
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Dietary Proteins / administration & dosage*
  • Female
  • Germany
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Lactation
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pregnancy
  • Recommended Dietary Allowances
  • Reference Values
  • Switzerland
  • Young Adult


  • Dietary Proteins