Protein makes up roughly half of the volume of bone and one-third of the mass. The bone matrix is constantly being changed and re-modeled which involves protein breakdown and protein synthesis. A daily supply of protein is therefore required for bone maintenance.
Changes in bone mass, muscle mass and strength track together over the life span, meaning that bone health is not an isolated issue, it is a musculoskeletal issue. The age related loss of bone mass (Osteopenia) and loss of muscle mass (Sarcopenia) are closely related and maintenance of adequate bone strength and density with aging is highly dependent on the maintenance of adequate muscle mass and function, which is in turn dependent on adequate intake of high quality protein.
The scientific community is now suggesting that dietary proteins are as essential as calcium and vitamin D for bone health and osteoporosis prevention. The mechanisms responsible for bone loss with age, whether nutrient deficiencies, decreased hormone production or decline in physical activity may also be responsible for loss of muscle mass.
Currently little attention is given to adequate protein intake for senior nutrition but evidence shows that higher protein diets are associated with greater bone mass and fewer fractures when calcium intake is adequate. Whey protein with the benefits for muscle protein synthesis and physical attributes in terms of taste and solubility make it the protein of choice.