Protein is important for growth, maintenance and protection of the body. Both adequacy of protein quantity and protein quality in the diet are important to guarantee obtaining all the essential amino acids. Protein-energy malnutrition is widely present in developing countries such as Nigeria and might result in stunting and wasting. Needs for protein differ depending on age and physiological status and are higher during growth, pregnancy and lactation. The present review assessed protein quantity and quality in diets of Nigerian infants, children, adolescents, and pregnant and lactating women. Literature reviews and calculations were performed to assess adequacy of Nigerian protein intake and to examine the Nigerian diet. The digestible indispensable amino acid score was used to calculate protein quality of nine Nigerian staple foods and of a mixture of foods. The Nigerian population had mostly adequate protein intake when compared with the most recent protein recommendations by the FAO (2013) and WHO/FAO/UNU (2007). An important exception was the protein intake of adolescent girls and pregnant and lactating women. Most of the assessed Nigerian plant-based staple foods were of low protein quality and predominantly lacked the amino acid lysine. The addition of animal-source foods can bridge the protein quality gap created by predominance of plant-based foods in the Nigerian diet. The methodology of this review can be applied to other low- and middle-income countries where diets are often plant-based and lack variety, which might influence protein intake adequacy.
- Digestible indispensable amino acid score (DIAAS)
- Essential amino acids
- Protein intake