dietary requirements (protein)

Last reviewed 03/2022

Both the quality and the quantity of dietary amino acids is important:

  • quality:
    • essential amino acids should constitute at least half of the dietary intake
    • meat proteins contain suitable proportions of essential and non-essential amino acids
    • vegetable proteins may be deficient in sulphur-containing amino acids; vegans and vegetarians may need dietary supplementation
  • quantity; dependent on the balance against utilization and losses:
    • healthy adult: a minimum of 0.5 g/kg weight per day is required. This rises to 1 g/kg/day with average daily function.
    • pregnancy: increased demands for fetal growth and support; up to 1.5 g/kg/day.
    • growing child: up to 2.5 g/kg/day.

The nitrogen balance is a simple index of whether protein requirements are being met.