High levels of protein intake (HProt) enhance the positive impact of high physical activity (HPA) on bone structure and strength in healthy pre-pubertal boys, according to a study presented during the World Congress on Osteoporosis, Osteoarthritis and Musculoskeletal Diseases in Seville.
Researchers from the University of Geneva in Switzerland and Eindhoven University in the Netherlands tracked 176 healthy pre-pubertal boys (average age 7.4 years) to mid-adolescence (average age 15.2 years). Compared to moderate protein intake, HProt in combination with HPA was associated with microstructural changes to bone mineral content and bone mineral density at the hip.
At 15.2 years, at distal tibia, HProt-HPA vs MProt-HPA was significantly associated with larger cross sectional area and higher trabecular number. Under MProt and HProt, increased physical activity was associated with greater stiffness and failure load.
The positive microstructural changes, which are thought to confer greater mechanical resistance to weight-bearing bones, tracked from pre-puberty to mid-late puberty.
The study results suggest that synergies between high levels of protein intake and rigorous physical activity during youth may help prevent osteoporosis later in life.