Harvard Health Letter

Protein check: How much do you really need?

The research is mixed when it comes to daily protein requirements for older adults.

Protein is important for building and maintaining muscle, bone strength, and numerous body functions. But are you eating enough of it each day? "Some older people just don't get enough protein to meet their bodies' needs, especially if they are not getting enough daily calories," says registered dietitian Kathy McManus, director of the Department of Nutrition at Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women's Hospital.

Protein values in common foods

FOOD

SERVING SIZE

PROTEIN IN GRAMS

Plain Greek yogurt

6 ounces

18

Cottage cheese

½ cup

14

Milk

1 cup

8

Cooked turkey or chicken

1 ounce

7

Tuna, salmon, haddock, or trout

1 ounce

7

Cooked beans

½ cup

6–9

Egg

1

6

Cooked pasta

1 cup

6

Nuts (all types)

¼ cup or 1 ounce

4–7

Source: Brigham and Women's Hospital Department of Nutrition

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