Current Dietary Reference Intakes (DRI) for protein for children and youth require revision as they were derived primarily on nitrogen balance data in young children or extrapolated from adult values; did not account for the possible influence of above average physical activity; and did not set an upper tolerable level of intake. Revision of the protein DRIs requires new research that investigates: 1) long-term dose-response to identify protein and essential amino acid requirements of both sexes at various pubertal stages and under differing conditions of physical activity; 2) the acute protein needs (quantity and timing) following a single bout of exercise; 3) the potential adverse effects of chronic high intakes of protein; and 4) new measurement techniques (i.e., IAAO or stable isotope methodologies) to improve accuracy of protein needs. While active individuals may require protein in excess of current DRIs, most active Canadian children and youth have habitual protein intakes that exceed current recommendations.
Volterman and Atkinson are with the Dept. of Pediatrics, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.