The role of nutrition in ageing: A narrative review from the perspective of the European joint action on frailty – ADVANTAGE JA

Published:August 03, 2018DOI:


      • Healthy older people should consume in average 1.0–1.2 g/kg of body weight of protein per day.
      • Nutritional interventions are effective when combined with physical exercise.
      • Vitamin D supplementation is important in people with 25-OH vitamin D level < 30 nmol/l.


      Background and purpose

      There is sufficient evidence that nutrition and frailty status are related. In order to deliver quality management of frail and pre-frail patients, clinicians and dieticians should understand the role of nutrition in the concept of frailty. This study examines the role of nutrition in ageing in general, malnutrition and the risk of frailty, individual nutritional factors as the risk factors of frailty and lastly nutritional interventions that have a significant role in frailty.


      A literature search was conducted in the following databases: PubMed, Cochrane, Embase, Cinahl and UpToDate. The criterion in selecting the literature was that articles were published between 2002 and 2017. From 39,885 initial hits, 28 publications were selected.


      Malnutrition or being at risk of malnutrition increases the risk of frailty and its consequences. With regard to the importance of recognizing malnutrition and the risk of malnutrition, the Mini Nutritional Assessment is a validated tool with acceptable sensitivity/specificity to be used for screening and assessment. Frail patients who are at an elevated risk of falls and fractures need Vitamin D supplementation. The promotion of a Mediterranean diet and a protein intake of at least 1–1.2 g per kilogram of body weight per day is beneficial.


      One of the main variable risk factors for the development of frailty can be unsuitable nourishment and there is evidence that nutrition and frailty status are related. Successful comprehensive management of frailty requires a balanced healthy nutrition at all ages, preferably in combination with physical activity.


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