Are Protein Supplements for Older People Important?

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Do you eat enough protein?

Especially important as you get older, protein maintains bone health and muscle strength, muscle mass and other vital functions. However, older bodies process protein less effectively.

High protein supplement products can be beneficial for some older adults as part of an overall nutrition plan that includes proper diet and exercise, but they are not suitable for everyone.

Should seniors take protein supplements?

A lack of protein absorption can cause weak muscle mass and density loss in older adults. Booster powders or shakes can fill in the lost protein and other nutritional needs, but people should always seek a doctor’s advice.

Here are other reasons why older adults could need protein supplements as boosters:

  • Protein supplements improve digestion and absorption of proteins.
  • Muscles will benefit from protein since we lose muscle volume as we age.
  • Proteins can help increase bone strength and density.
  • High protein products help build muscle and support faster recovery of strained muscles.
  • Essential amino acids strengthen tendons and ligaments for greater mobility and physical activity.
  • A good shake or powder provides improved nutrition and increased energy for seniors with low energy.

How much protein do seniors need?

Protein should account for 10%-35% of calorie intake, according to the National Institute of Health. People who consume 2000 calories throughout the day will need 100 grams of protein content per day.

However, older people may actually need more protein: findings suggest that elderly adults may need about 1.0 to 1.3 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. That’s about 60 grams of protein for a 60 kg person.

What is a good protein supplement for seniors?

Most senior protein supplements require medical advice from a qualified dietician. When choosing a protein powder for older people, here are some factors to consider:

  • Must contain BCAAs to build lean muscle and aid in muscle loss.
  • Protein shakes and powders add vitamins and minerals to provide medical health care and immune support functions.
  • Check the protein source. Whey protein is considered the best, but other sources include egg, milk, and vegan sources like pea, soy, oat, hemp and rice.
  • There are different flavours of protein products, but chocolate or vanilla are the most popular.

Types of Protein Supplements Older People Should Know

There are various kinds of protein boosters, and they have different effects. Here are some of the categories:

  • Casein – a type of HBV protein found in milk, which may clot in the stomach, slowing digestion and delivery to the body
  • Whey protein – a rapidly digestible HBV protein, which is high in branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs), particularly leucine
  • Albumin from eggs – costs more than whey and casein but provides a high-quality protein that is fat- and carbohydrate-free
  • Soy protein – a rapidly digested protein found in mixed protein bars and supplements
  • Pea, rice, or hemp protein – these vegan proteins each contain all 9 essential amino acids, are easily-digestible, and are hypoallergenic.

What to Consider when Buying Protein Supplements

Since our muscles become less responsive to dietary protein as we age, we need to eat more to stimulate muscle growth. It is always a good idea to consume proteins through a healthy meal serving. However, if the body still requires more nutrients, it is advised to consult a doctor before taking any protein powders and supplements.

Seniors should consume between 30 grams and 40 grams per serving to prevent loss of muscle strength. Protein powders contain a lot of added protein, which can cause indigestion and other serious problems if overused.

A popular supplement is whey protein powder, which has three types.

  • Whey Protein Concentrate (WPC) and Whey Protein Isolate (WPI) contain 80 per cent and 90 per cent protein with small amounts of fat and lactose.
  • Whey Protein Hydrolysate is derived from either WPC or WPI and includes amino acid or peptide chains for faster digestion.

Key Takeaway: Consider the risks of protein supplements

With a healthy diet and exercise, consuming a protein shake or powder at the same time daily may improve overall health. However, consider the following key reminders and risks:

  • Product safety and labelling must be evaluated since there is no way to confirm manufacturers’ claims about the product’s contents.
  • There is not much research on the long-term effects of these boosters.
  • Milk-based products may cause gastrointestinal distress for those who have lactose intolerance and dairy allergy.
  • Protein supplements may contain a high amount of added sugars and calories, which can increase blood sugar and weight.

Seniors can only reap the benefits if they consume the recommended daily amount of protein, eat a healthy diet, and exercise daily. That said, it’s always important to seek medical advice when it comes to protein shakes and nutrition, as everyone has different needs.

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