Review: Animal Protein Not Inferior or Superior to Vegetable Protein


The interaction between dietary protein and bone health.

The role of dietary protein in bone health has been controversial. On the one hand, a plentiful supply of dietary amino acids has been considered important to support bone remodeling while on the other hand there have been concerns that the dietary acid load associated with protein consumption promotes hypercalciuria and loss of bone calcium stores. This article reviews the effect of dietary protein on bone mass and bone density, and the effect on markers of bone resorption and formation and also on fracture risk, looking at both cross-sectional and longitudinal studies and examining both meat and vegetable protein including soy and milk basic protein. The results are not entirely consistent and suggest that the interaction between dietary protein and other components in a mixed diet, such as calcium intake and vegetables and fruit to neutralize acid, are important and may determine whether high-protein diets are beneficial to bone health. Overall the results suggest that dietary protein has a modest beneficial effect on bone markers and bone density. This effect has yet to be consistently linked to reduced fracture risk, probably because of the role of other etiological factors such as the risk of falls. There is not enough evidence currently to suggest that animal protein is superior or inferior to vegetable protein, or that milk or soy protein, respectively, is more favorable than other protein sources.

Jesudason D, Clifton P
J. Bone Miner. Metab. Jan 2011
PMID: 20972896