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Back to Symposium 2013

Protein Requirements

Rajavel Elango Rajavel Elango, PhD

The University of British Columbia

Dietary protein is an essential component of a healthy diet for humans. Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs) are recommendations set at a population level to ensure adequate intakes of nutrients, including protein.

The current protein recommendations for healthy adults (19-70y) are based on studies conducted using the nitrogen balance method, which has several limitations. For other key life-stages such as childhood and pregnancy, requirement values are set using the factorial method which is based on the nitrogen balance method and thus has similar limitations.

Recently – with the use of state-of-the-art, stable isotope-based techniques – protein requirements have been re-assessed for healthy adults, school-aged children, during pregnancy and for the elderly. The results suggest that current protein recommendations may be significantly underestimated and this has important implications, locally, nationally and internationally.

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