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Why Protein is an Important Part of a Senior's Diet

As adults age, their bodies begin to change, whether it’s creaky knees, a bad hip, or a serious disease or illness. While some ailments can’t be prevented, exercise and proper nutrition can help keep adults stronger and active for longer. The diet of younger adults, however, is often very different from an older adult’s dietary needs. Protein, specifically, is a vital component of senior health.

Over time, muscle mass decreases and can lead to falls and mobility loss. Older adults need protein for muscle strength as well as every day physical function. According to a 2018 study published in the Journals of Gerontology, seniors who had a higher protein intake also had a higher level of physical function—protecting against frailty, falls, and giving seniors a greater ability to remain independent. A 2017 study found high protein diets can also help seniors who want to lose weight take it off more easily.

Seniors especially need to eat higher-protein foods when they’re recovering from surgery or dealing with illness. The amino acids found in protein helps build muscle and tissue, which works in turn to build strength and restore energy that’s longer lasting, while also contributing to overall health as a nutritious resource that encourages the healing process.

Unfortunately, according to a National Institute of Health study, one-third of older adults don’t eat enough protein for reasons that include loss of appetite or taste issues, problems swallowing, dental issues, and more. This puts them at risk—older adults need more protein, not less.

"One-third of older adults don’t eat enough protein for reasons that include loss of appetite or taste issues, problems swallowing, dental issues, and more. This puts them at risk—older adults need more protein, not less."

While it’s important for older adults to eat lean animal proteins like chicken, fish, and eggs, or plant-based options like chickpeas, lentils, and beans, nutritional protein supplements can fill in the gaps.

This includes supplements like: ProSource NoCarb Unflavored Concentrate Protein Supplement, which contains both collagen and whey proteins and can be added to food or drink to help boost protein intake, and Beneprotein Protein Supplement, which provides 6 grams of protein with each serving and contains 100% high-quality whey protein.

Food and drink supplements like the antioxidant-rich ZonePerfect Chocolate Peanut Butter Nutrition Bar with its 10-15 grams of protein, the Abbott Ensure Plus Nutrition Shake in Vanilla with its 13 grams of protein and vitamin D, and the Boost High Protein Strawberry Oral Supplement with its 20 grams of protein and 27 minerals, offer tasty ways to ensure older adults are getting the protein they need. 

The evidence is clear that seniors need plenty of protein throughout the day. By following a diet that’s rich in protein through foods and supplements, older adults can continue to move and be active now and in years to come.