The Role of Protein in Healthy Aging 

by Natalie Meriwether, BSN

Is protein related to healthy aging? 

Protein is an essential macronutrient for many bodily functions and helps support muscle mass, bone strength, and skin health. Protein stores and muscle mass can naturally decline with age, making it important to prioritize daily protein intake.  

Muscle Mass 

Protein supports the stimulation of muscle synthesis, promoting the growth and maintenance of muscle mass. Research indicates that muscle mass tends to decline by approximately 3-8% every decade after the age of 30, with an accelerated rate of decline after the age of 60.1 

Fortunately, studies suggest that strength training and adequate consumption of quality protein can help build and maintain muscle mass. Maintaining muscle health is an important factor of mobility, functional independence, and overall quality of life.  

Bone Strength 

While calcium is widely recognized as the king of bone health, protein’s importance often gets overlooked. Bone mineral density, a measure of bone strength and density, has been shown to decline with age.2 However, studies suggest that adequate protein intake, in combination with calcium and other nutrients, may help to maintain bone health.3  

> Shop Bone Health Supplements

Skin Health  

Protein is an important component of our skin, and adequate intake is important for skin health at all stages of life. Protein is involved in various processes that contribute to overall skin health, including moisture retention, skin regeneration, and elasticity. Consuming sufficient protein supports these processes, promoting optimal skin health during the aging process.   

How can I increase my protein intake? 

  • Include protein at every meal by adding lean meats, poultry, fish, eggs, dairy products, legumes, tofu, edamame, or other plant-based protein options. 
  • Incorporate protein-rich snacks like Greek yogurt, string cheese, boiled eggs, cottage cheese, or protein bars in between meals.  
  • Opt for whole wheat grains like brown rice, whole wheat pasta and breads, and whole wheat cereals.  
  • Experiment with protein-rich desserts and baked goods.  Cherry Chocolate Protein Muffins Recipe  
  • Consider protein supplements like powders or premade shakes.  


Protein plays an important role in healthy aging by supporting muscle mass, bone strength, and skin health. Consuming adequate protein and prioritizing movement is important at all ages, especially for maintaining mobility and strength later in life.  


  1. Volpi E, Nazemi R, Fujita S. Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care. 2004 Jul;7(4):405-10. doi: 10.1097/01.mco.0000134362.76653.b2. PMID: 15192443; PMCID: PMC2804956. 
  1. Padilla Colón CJ, Molina-Vicenty IL, Frontera-Rodríguez M, García-Ferré A, Rivera BP, Cintrón-Vélez G, Frontera-Rodríguez S. 2018;3:40-49. doi: 10.7150/jbm.23390. PMID: 30505650; PMCID: PMC6261527. 
  1. Mangano KM, Sahni S, Kerstetter JE. 2014 Jan;17(1):69-74. doi: 10.1097/MCO.0000000000000013. PMID: 24316688; PMCID: PMC4180248.