You may already know that protein intake is an important part of any diet, but can it affect your probability of developing osteoporosis?
A recent study published in "The Journal of Nutrition, Health and Aging" looked at the connection between dietary protein intake and bone health. Around 5,000 people age 45 or older were surveyed about their diet. Of the 5,000 participants, 442 had osteoporosis.
When comparing the diets of all individuals, researchers found that people who had osteoporosis generally ate less protein. Participants were also grouped by how much protein they normally ate. Researchers found that in the groups that ate more protein, fewer people developed osteoporosis. Overall, diets lower in protein were associated with a higher risk of osteoporosis.
These results make sense -- protein is considered very important for bone and muscle health. Generally, increased protein consumption is associated with increased bone mass density, meaning bones are more dense and therefore stronger (International Osteoporosis Foundation, 2022). A diet rich in protein also increases muscle strength, allowing your muscles to better support your body and potentially help keep you from falling.
So how much protein is "enough" to benefit bone health? For women 45 and older, 46 grams of protein per day is recommended (International Osteoporosis Foundation, 2022). In case you're wondering, one chicken breast contains 32 grams of protein, two tablespoons of peanut butter contain 7 grams of protein, and one cup of cooked lentils contains 18 grams of protein (USDA Food Data Central, 2019).
The verdict? Protein intake matters -- and may affect your chances of developing osteoporosis. So talk to your doctor about how much protein you should be eating in order to best maintain your bone health.