The effect of a whey protein supplement on bone mass in older Caucasian adults

Jane E. Kerstetter, Jessica D. Bihuniak, Jennifer Brindisi, Rebecca R. Sullivan, Kelsey M. Mangano, Sarah Larocque, Belinda M. Kotler, Christine A. Simpson, Anna Maria Cusano, Erin Gaffney-Stomberg, Alison Kleppinger, Jesse Reynolds, James Dziura, Anne M. Kenny, Karl L. Insogna

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Context: It has been assumed that the increase in urine calcium (Ca) that accompanies an increase in dietary protein was due to increased bone resorption. However, studies using stable Ca isotopes have found that dietary protein increases Ca absorption without increasing bone resorption. Objective: The objective of the study was to investigate the impact of a moderately high protein diet on bone mineral density (BMD). Design: This was a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of protein supplementation daily for 18 months. Setting: The study was conducted at two institutional research centers. Participants: Two hundred eight older women and men with a body mass index between 19 and 32 kg/m2 and a self-reported protein intake between 0.6 and 1.0 g/kg participated in the study. Intervention: Subjects were asked to incorporate either a 45-g whey protein or isocaloric maltodextrin supplement into their usual diet for 18 months. Main Outcome Measure: BMD by dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry, body composition, and markers of skeletal and mineral metabolism were measured at baseline and at 9 and 18 months. Results: There were no significant differences between groups for changes in L-spine BMD (primary outcome) or the other skeletal sites of interest. Truncal lean mass was significantly higher in the protein group at 18 months (P = .048). C-terminal telopeptide (P = .0414), IGF-1 (P = .0054), and urinary urea (P < .001) were also higher in the protein group at the end of the study period. There was no difference in estimated glomerular filtration rate at 18 months. Conclusion: Our data suggest that protein supplementation above the recommended dietary allowance (0.8 g/kg) may preserve fat-free mass without adversely affecting skeletal health or renal function in healthy older adults.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2214-2222
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Biochemistry
  • Endocrinology
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Biochemistry, medical


Dive into the research topics of 'The effect of a whey protein supplement on bone mass in older Caucasian adults'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this