Optimal intakes of protein in the human diet.Proc Nutr Soc 1999; 58(2):403-13PN
For protein, progress is slow in defining quantifiable indicators of adequacy other than balance and growth. As far as current requirements are concerned, only in the case of infants and children is there any case for revision, and this change is to lower values. Such intakes would appear to be safe when consumed as milk formula. In pregnancy, notwithstanding the concern that deficiency may influence programming of disease in later life, there is little evidence of any increased need, and some evidence that increased intakes would pose a risk. For the elderly there is no evidence of an increased requirement or of benefit from increased intakes, except possibly for bone health. For adults, while we now know much more about metabolic adaptation to varying intakes, there would appear to be no case for a change in current recommendations. As far as risks and benefits of high intakes are concerned, there is now only a weak case for risk for renal function. For bone health the established views of risk of high protein intakes are not supported by newly-emerging data, with benefit indicated in the elderly. There is also circumstantial evidence for benefit on blood pressure and stroke mortality. With athletes there is little evidence of benefit of increased intakes in terms of performance, with older literature suggesting an adverse influence. Thus, given that a safe upper limit is currently defined as twice the reference nutrient intake, and that for individuals with high energy requirements this value (1.5 g/kg per d) is easily exceeded, there is a case for revising the definition of a safe upper limit.