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What’s the role of Protein in bone health? What’s the role of Protein in bone health?

What’s the role of Protein in bone health?

As we grow and mature, the amount of bone mass in our bodies steadily decreases; especially for women, who are prone to developing thin bones and developing osteoporosis due to a higher rate of bone loss in comparison to men.

You don’t need to panic though, because bone loss and osteoporosis can be prevented through a healthy lifestyle and a balanced diet, rich in calcium and vitamin D. Additionally research shows that other nutrients in your diet also play a role in bone health. One of these is protein.

How much protein is good for your bones? Quite simply, the answer is “just the right amount, not too much and not too little”. Protein plays an important role in enhancing the integrity of your bones, organs and system, at all stages of your life.

What happens if you have too much protein? Too much protein from the intake of animal sources (such as meat) can cause more calcium to be excreted from the body. However, recent research has shown that higher protein intake and its impact on bone status is a concern only when your calcium intake is below the recommended requirement.

What happens if you have too little protein? In comparison to a higher intake, the effect of low protein levels in your body is detrimental both for the acquisition of bone mass during childhood and maintenance of bone mass in adults. Consuming too little protein is associated with low bone mineral density and a greater fracture risk in older adults.

Protein intake: the right amount that you need! Studies have shown that people who consume their daily protein requirements maintained their bone health when compared to those eating lower than recommended levels, as it was proven that the body absorbs more calcium when the diet is adequate in protein. So, in terms of quantity, an average adult should consume 0.8g per body weight of protein per day.

The chart below provides a quick reference for you to estimate your protein intake from your diet:

Food Quantity Grams of protein
Meat, chicken or fish 90g 21
Egg 1 egg 7
Milk 1 glass 8
Rice, pasta or burghul ½ cup 3
Bread ¼ loaf or 1 slice 3
Raw vegetables 1 cup 2
Fruit and fruit juices 1 fruit 0

A healthy diet for today: Following a balanced diet that incorporates all food groups from grains, vegetables and fruits to bread, milk, meat and legumes, will ensure you get the right amount of protein as well as the vitamins and minerals essential for strong and healthy bones and overall health. Always remember to enrich your diet with enough calcium and vitamin D, the key nutrients for strong bones!

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