Many of the consumers behind the $10 billion protein explosion may be people focused on sports nutrition, but protein intake may be even more critical to a wider demographic: older people who are not concerned about slicing seconds from their speed workout but are concerned about adding years to their lives.
Protein may help keep elderly women strong and out of the hospital. A new study suggests that eating enough of the stuff, or taking essential amino acid supplements, can help older women keep their muscles and lower the risk of osteoporosis. The less chance of osteoporosis, the less likelihood of fractures, which while never fun, are particularly harmful to the elderly.
The study, conducted at the School of Public Health at the University of Sao Paulo, Brazil, was published online in the journal Nutrition in Clinical Practice and was noted on foodconsumer.org.
The study analyzed women over 65, some who had sarcopenia (the age-related loss of muscle mass that can begin after age 40), some who did not. Researchers assessed the bone mineral density of the women’s bones, body composition through x-ray technology and diet.
They found that “muscle, bone and fat mass was significantly higher in women who had protein intake greater than 1.2 grams per kilogram of weight per day." They also noted that women with sarcopenia had a lower level intake of essential amino acids.
“The 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,” according to the study’s abstract.