RDA Protein Requirements for Women

The recommended dietary allowance, or RDA, is the required intake level of a particular nutrient necessary to prevent deficiency and promote good health. Protein is an essential nutrient required for growth, development and maintenance of the body. No matter the age or activity level, all women require protein daily. You can obtain adequate protein daily by eating a balanced diet that includes a wide variety of healthy foods.


Protein Function

Protein is a macronutrient that is used for energy production and the formation of tissues. It serves structural roles in all cells and tissues. Protein is also necessary for the manufacture of hormones, antibodies and enzymes. When you eat protein, the body breaks it down into two types of amino acids known as essential or nonessential. Essential amino acids must be obtained from dietary sources because the body cannot produce them.

Protein Requirements

The RDA for protein in adult women is 46 grams daily, according to the Institute of Medicine. Women who are pregnant or nursing require greater amounts of protein, approximately 71 grams per day. On average, women should consume 0.8 grams of protein for every kilogram of body weight or 1.1 gram per kilogram for pregnant women. A registered dietitian can help you determine your exact protein requirements based on age, weight and activity level.

Protein Sources

Significant sources of protein are meats, poultry, fish, eggs, and dairy products. A 3-ounce piece of meat contains roughly 21 grams of protein. Soy products such as tofu and soy milk also provide significant protein. Various legumes, nuts, seeds, grains and some vegetables also are sources of protein. One cup of dried beans provides 16 grams of protein.

Diet Considerations

Plant proteins are classified as incomplete proteins because they typically do not contain all essential amino acids. Fortunately, you can combine a variety of incomplete proteins in order to obtain all necessary amino acids. For example, combining legumes, grains, rice or mixed vegetables together provides adequate amounts of all essential amino acids. When consuming animal products, choose healthier options such as low-fat dairy, lean meat or skinless poultry.


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