Protein quality is important for patients needing medical nutrition, especially those dependent on tube feeding. A blend of dairy and vegetable proteins (35% whey, 25% casein, 20% soy, 20% pea; P4) developed to obtain a more balanced amino acid profile with higher chemical scores, was compared to its constituent single proteins. Fourteen healthy elderly subjects received P4, whey, casein, soy, and pea (18 g/360 mL bolus) on five separate visits. Blood samples were collected at baseline until 240 min after intake. Amino acid availability was calculated using incremental maximal concentration (iCmax) and area under the curve (iAUC). Availability for P4 as a sum of all amino acids was similar to casein (iCmax and iAUC) and whey (iCmax) and higher vs. soy (iCmax and iAUC) and pea (iCmax). Individual amino acid availability (iCmax and iAUC) showed different profiles reflecting the composition of the protein sources: availability of leucine and methionine was higher for P4 vs. soy and pea; availability of arginine was higher for P4 vs. casein and whey. Conclusions: The P4 amino acid profile was reflected in post-prandial plasma levels and may be regarded as more balanced compared to the constituent single proteins.
Keywords: amino acid composition; arginine; enteral tube feed; glycine; leucine; methionine; non-essential amino acid; protein blend; protein quality; vegetable protein.