NMU 269 – Women Need Additional 25 gm of Protein per day to Prevent Hip Fractures
Nutrition/Natural Medicine Update No 269 (December 21, 2022)
with Dr. James Meschino
Topic: Women Need Additional 25 gm of Protein per day to Prevent Hip Fractures
Source: J Clinical Nutrition (2022)
A study published in the Journal of Nutrition in December 2022 showed that most women should be getting an extra 25 gm of protein per day to prevent hip fractures as they age. This large study also showed that drinking coffee and tea helped to reduce hip fracture risk by an additional 4% per cup, as coffee and tea contain polyphenols that help to support bone density in a similar way as the hormone estrogen. This study (The UK Women’s Cohort Study) followed over 26,000 women (ages 35-69) for an average period of 22.3 years. The study showed that women who ingested an extra 25 gm of protein per day had a 14% lower risk of having a hip fracture during the 22-year follow-up period. As well, every additional cup of tea or coffee was associated with a 4% lower risk of hip fracture. It is not uncommon for women to consume inadequate protein, especially as they get older, and some experts feel that the RDA level for protein is set a bit too low, and I agree. The RDA for protein is .8 gm per kg of body of weight. Many experts feel it should be at least one gm of protein for every kg you weigh, So, if you weigh 70 kg, you need at least 70 gm of protein daily to help optimize your bone density, muscle tissue, and immune system (as antibodies are made of protein) and other for other reasons. Most women do not get this level of protein intake. This extra 25 gm of protein can easily be obtained by drinking a delicious whey protein shake, which I do personally, 4-5 times per week. Whey protein has high biological value for supporting muscle and bone protein synthesis and immunity.
One chicken breast or turkey breast also contains about 25 gm of protein, as do 3-4 egg whites, or 10-12 oz of non-fat Greek Yogurt, or a 3.5 oz salmon steak. These are all good, low-fat, low cholesterol, sources of protein. The salmon steak has more fat, but it’s healthy omega-3 fat. 100 gm of tofu contains 17 gm of protein for individuals who are vegan or are trying to be more plant-based, which I also would endorse. Substituting beans and peas for pasta, bread, potatoes, and rice can also help you get more protein while keeping your blood sugar (glucose) lower, an important consideration in the prevention of diabetes and weight gain, and for reducing overall risk of cardiovascular disease and some cancers. The takeaway message is that women should look at their diet to make sure they are getting sufficient protein each day.
In Canada, one in three women will suffer an osteoporotic fracture in their lifetime (https://osteoporosis.ca/facts-and-stats/). In the U.S. osteoporosis prevalence among women increased from 14.0% in 2007–2008 to 19.6% in 2017–2018. One in two women in the U.S. will break a bone in the lifetime due to osteoporosis (https://www.bonehealthandosteoporosis.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/Osteoporosis-Fast-Facts.pdf). So, overall, things are getting worse, not better, as the population ages. Adding 25 gm of additional healthy protein and consuming 3-5 cups per day of green tea and/or coffee, represent a couple of basic and easy strategies to help combat this serious health problem that disproportionately affects the female population. Of course, doing resistance training and/or weight-bearing exercises regularly and ingesting sufficient calcium (1,000 -1,200 mg per day) and magnesium (300 – 450 mg per day) and maintaining a blood vitamin D level between 75 – 150 nmol/L (30 – 60 ng/ml) are also critical strategies to reduce risk of osteoporosis. It is important to note that caffeine in coffee and tea can increase the loss of calcium from the body via the urine, so be sure to ingest at least 1,000 mg per day of calcium from food and/or supplements to guard against calcium loss, especially if you are ingesting coffee and/or tea on a daily basis. As you recall, the polyphenols in coffee and tea were associated with a decreased risk of osteoporosis in this large U.K. women’s study, but the presence of caffeine in these beverages does increase calcium loss. So, be mindful of this fact.
I have included the reference for the U.K. Women’s Cohort Study in the text below.
James Webster, Darren C. Greenwood, Janet E. Cade. Foods, nutrients and hip fracture risk: A prospective study of middle-aged women. Clinical Nutrition, 2022; 41 (12): 2825
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