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Adequate intake of protein is associated with a reduced risk of frailty and prefrailty in older women, according to a new study from the University of Eastern Finland and Kuopio University Hospital. Adequate protein intake was defined as at least 1.1 g per kg of body weight. The findings were published in European Journal of Nutrition.
Frailty is a multidimensional condition common in older adults, and those affected are at an elevated risk of dependence and mobility loss, fall, fracture, multimorbidity and mortality. Evidence shows a strong link between frailty and malnutrition, and protein may be the most important nutrient at play, mostly through its effect 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. However, there is a paucity of data regarding the association of protein intake with frailty. The newly published study examined associations between protein intake and protein sources with frailty status in older women.
Participants were 440 women aged 65--72 years enrolled in the Osteoporosis Risk Factor and Prevention-Fracture Prevention Study. Their protein intake in g per kg of body weight was calculated 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 per cent.