Scientific Opinion on Dietary Reference Values for protein


Protein, amino acids, nitrogen balance, factorial method, efficiency of utilisation, digestibility, health outcomes
First published in the EFSA Journal
9 febbraio 2012
19 gennaio 2012
Last Updated
5 febbraio 2015. This version replaces the previous one/s.
Opinion of the Scientific Committee/Scientific Panel

This opinion of the EFSA Panel on Dietetic Products, Nutrition and Allergies (NDA) deals with the setting of Dietary Reference Values (DRVs) for protein. The Panel concludes that a Population Reference Intake (PRI) can be derived from nitrogen balance studies. Several health outcomes possibly associated with protein intake were also considered but data were found to be insufficient to establish DRVs. For healthy adults of both sexes, the average requirement (AR) is 0.66 g protein/kg body weight per day based on nitrogen balance data. Considering the 97.5th percentile of the distribution of the requirement and assuming an efficiency of utilisation of dietary protein for maintenance of 47 %, the PRI for adults of all ages was estimated to be 0.83 g protein/kg body weight per day and is applicable both to high quality protein and to protein in mixed diets. For children from six months onwards, age-dependent requirements for growth estimated from average daily rates of protein deposition and adjusted by a protein efficiency for growth of 58 % were added to the requirement for maintenance of 0.66 g/kg body weight per day. The PRI was estimated based on the average requirement plus 1.96 SD using a combined SD for growth and maintenance. For pregnancy, an intake of 1, 9 and 28 g/d in the first, second and third trimesters, respectively, is proposed in addition to the PRI for non-pregnant women. For lactation, a protein intake of 19 g/d during the first six months, and of 13 g/d after six months, is proposed in addition to the PRI for non-lactating women. Data are insufficient to establish a Tolerable Upper Intake Level (UL) for protein. Intakes up to twice the PRI are regularly consumed from mixed diets by some physically active and healthy adults in Europe and are considered safe.

Panel members at the time of adoption
Carlo Agostoni, Jean-Louis Bresson, Susan Fairweather-Tait, Albert Flynn, Ines Golly, Hannu Korhonen, Pagona Lagiou, Martinus Løvik, Rosangela Marchelli, Ambroise Martin, Bevan Moseley, Monika Neuhäuser-Berthold, Hildegard Przyrembel, Seppo Salminen, Yolanda Sanz, Sean (J.J.) Strain, Stephan Strobel, Inge Tetens, Daniel Tomé, Hendrik van Loveren and Hans Verhagen.
Panel on Dietetic Products, Nutrition and Allergies
nda [at]
EFSA Journal 2012;10(2):2557 [66 pp.].
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