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Mature Adults and Critically Ill May Need More Than the RDA of Protein

The recommended daily allowance (RDA) of all foods is set by the Food and Nutrition Board of the National Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Medicine. The protein RDA was set in 1968, with an update for the one used by researchers and professionals in 2003. A recent review suggests that the recommended daily allowance (RDA) of protein may not be high enough for mature adults and people who are critically ill.


Stuart Phillips of McMaster University, the author of this review, suggests that the current RDA of 0.8 g/kg/day of protein is not enough for mature adults and people with clinical conditions. Previous studies have shown that protein intakes beyond the RDA are associated with benefits in older persons. For example, mature adults with the highest protein intakes (18.7% of calories came from protein) lost approximately 40% less lean body mass compared to those with the lowest intakes.


The author also states that mature adults and the critically ill need different types of proteins. Mature adults have a higher need for leucine to build muscle proteins. Critically ill patients often lose lean body mass quickly, which changes their protein intake needs.


The author suggests that more randomized, controlled studies are needed in order to determine the ideal levels and types of protein for these two groups.


The study was published on May 8, 2017, in Frontiers in Nutrition.


Protein functions as a building block for bones, muscles, cartilage, skin, and blood. It is also a building block for enzymes, hormones, and vitamins. Previous studies suggest that consuming high amounts of protein may help build muscle and increase metabolism.

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