The Importance of Protein in Older Age

Food high in protein on a wooden background.

As we age, it’s important to make sure we’re getting all the nutrients we need in order to keep healthy. Protein is especially important for older adults. Find out why!
Why do older adults need to make sure they get enough protein?
As we age, the composition of our body changes. Muscle mass and bone density tend to decrease as we get older. Protein can assist in the maintenance of a healthy body by doing the following:
– Maintaining muscle and bone
– Assisting in tissue repair
– Reducing the risk of heart disease and stroke

How much protein do I need?
There is some debate in the scientific community about protein requirements as we get older. Some experts believe that protein requirements might increase as we age, while others believe that current recommendations for protein intake are sufficient.
Making sure that you are consuming the current recommended amount of protein is a good starting point. Most people need around 3 portions of protein a day to meet daily requirements, depending on their size.

Rough estimates for a serving are as follows:
– One 3 ounce piece of lean meat (poultry, beef, pork, or fish)
– 6 ounces of yogurt
– 2 – 3 eggs
– Half a cup of cottage cheese
– A cup of chickpeas or beans

Choose lean proteins
Some protein rich foods can be also be high in fat (think red meat, processed meats, etc.) Being mindful of fat content, especially saturated fats, can help you maintain a healthy diet. Choosing leaner cuts of meat (fish, poultry, cuts of meat with minimal fat) can help you get that protein you need.

Mixing up the protein sources can also be beneficial. Having a combination of both animal and plant protein can balance the amount of fat consumed and provide a more balanced diet.

The key is balance
Though some seniors may not be getting enough protein, research suggests that many people exceed the amount they may need. The typical eight ounce steak is more than enough protein for a person for one day. For when consuming, be mindful of how much you need.

Happy Eating!