Commonly consumed protein foods contribute to nutrient intake, diet quality, and nutrient adequacy
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The amount of dietary protein needed to prevent deficiency in most individuals is defined in the United States and Canada by the Recommended Dietary Allowance and is currently set at 0.8 g protein · kg-1 · d-1 for adults. To meet this protein recommendation, the intake of a variety of protein food sources is advised. The goal of this article is to show that commonly consumed food sources of protein are more than just protein but also significant sources of essential nutrients. Commonly consumed sources of dietary protein frequently contribute substantially to intakes of nutrients such as calcium, vitamin D, potassium, dietary fiber, iron, and folate, which have been identified as nutrients of "concern" (i.e., intakes are often lower than recommended). Despite this, dietary recommendations to reduce intakes of saturated fat and solid fats may result in dietary guidance to reduce intakes of commonly consumed food sources of protein, in particular animal-based protein. We propose that following such dietary guidance would make it difficult to meet recommended intakes for a number of nutrients, at least without marked changes in dietary consumption patterns. These apparently conflicting pieces of dietary guidance are hard to reconcile; however, we view it as prudent to advise the intake of high-quality dietary protein to ensure adequate intakes of a number of nutrients, particularly nutrients of concern.
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