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Dietary Protein and Bone Health Across the Life-Course: an updated systematic review and meta-analysis over 40 years

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Publication details

JournalOsteoporosis International
DateAccepted/In press - 1 Mar 2019
DateE-pub ahead of print (current) - 21 Mar 2019
Number of pages21
Early online date21/03/19
Original languageEnglish


Purpose: This systematic review and meta-analysis analysed the relationship between dietary protein and bone health across the life-course.
Methods: The PubMed database was searched for all relevant human studies from the 1st 4 January 1976 to 22nd January 2016, including all bone outcomes except calcium metabolism.
Results: The searches identified 127 papers for inclusion, including 74 correlational studies, 23 fracture or osteoporosis risk studies and 30 supplementation trials. Protein intake accounted for 0 - 4% of areal BMC and areal BMD variance in adults and 0-14% of areal BMC variance in children and adolescents. However, when confounder adjusted (5 studies) adult lumbar spine and femoral neck BMD associations were not statistically significant. There was no association between protein intake and relative risk (RR) of osteoporotic fractures for total (RR(random) = 0.94; 0.72 to 1.23, I2=32%), animal (RR (random) = 0.98; 0.76 to 1.27, I2 = 46%) or vegetable protein (RR (fixed)= 0.97 (0.89 to 1.09, I2 = 15%). In total protein supplementation studies, pooled effect sizes were not statistically significant for LSBMD (total n=255, MD(fixed)=0.04 g/cm2 (0.00 to 0.08, P=0.07), I2=0%) or FNBMD (total n=435, MD(random)=0.01 g/cm2 (-0.03 to 0.05, P=0.59), I2=68%).
Conclusions: There appears to be little benefit of increasing protein intake for bone health in healthy adults but there is also clearly no indication of any detrimental effect, at least within the protein intakes of the populations studied (around 0.8-1.3 g/Kg/day). More studies are urgently required on the association between protein intake and bone health in children and adolescents.

Key Words: Aging, Epidemiology, IGF-1, Nutrition, Osteoporosis, Diet

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© International Osteoporosis Foundation and National Osteoporosis Foundation 2019. This is an author-produced version of the published paper. Uploaded in accordance with the publisher’s self-archiving policy. Further copying may not be permitted; contact the publisher for details.

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