Frailty is a common clinical syndrome in older adults that carries an increased risk for poor health outcomes, including falls, incident disability, hospitalization, and mortality.
Proof demonstrates a secure connection between frailty and malnutrition, and protein might be the most vital nutrient in this, mostly through its impact on muscle health.
The Nordic Nutrition Recommendations (2012) suggest protein intake of 1.1-1.3 g per kg of body weight as adequate for preserving physical capacity in older adults. In any case, information is scarce in regard to the relationship of protein intake and frailty.
In a new study, scientists at the University of Eastern Finland and Kuopio University Hospital have examined associations between protein intake and protein sources with frailty status in older women. They found that adequate intake of protein is associated with a reduced risk of frailty and prefrailty in older women.
Adequate protein intake was defined as at least 1.1 g per kg of body weight.
Almost 440 women participants aged 65─72 were enrolled in the study. Scientists quantified their protein intake in g per kg of body weight using a three-day food record at baseline in 2003─2004.
At the three-year follow-up in 2006─2007, frailty phenotype was defined as the presence of three or more, and prefrailty as the presence of one or two of the Fried criteria: low grip strength, low walking speed, low physical activity, exhaustion (defined using a low life satisfaction score), and weight loss of more than five percent.
Scientists detected that women who consumed an adequate amount of protein were associated with a lower risk of frailty and prefrailty in older women. Moreover, the consumption of animal protein was associated with a lower likelihood of frailty. The recommended protein intake (1.1-1.3 g per kg of body weight) for an older person weighing 70 kg corresponds to a minimum intake of 77 g of protein. To illustrate, the protein content of a chicken breast per portion is 25 g, one boiled egg 6 g, and two slices of whole grain bread 6 g.
Senior Lecturer Arja Erkkilä from the University of Eastern Finland concludes, “The public health recommendation is to eat an optimal diet with an adequate intake of protein. Adequate protein intake is important for muscle health and, according to the new results, may also prevent frailty. However, further research is still required in this area.”