Can the digestible indispensable amino acid score methodology decrease protein malnutrition

Hannah M. Bailey, Hans H. Stein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Protein undernutrition is a serious global problem that results in stunted growth, disease, and premature death in millions of people annually. Protein deficiency is caused by a deficiency in specific indispensable amino acids and efforts to alleviate protein malnutrition, therefore, need to focus on the provision of adequate quantities of digestible indispensable amino acids. The digestibility of amino acids is most correctly determined at the end of the small intestine, and digestibility values obtained using this approach are termed “ileal digestibility values.” The total protein provision to an individual is based on the sum of digestible indispensable amino acids consumed in a meal. The protein quality of a single ingredient is less important than the quality of the mixed meal that is consumed. To assist in calculating the protein quality of meals for humans, the FAO recommends that a system called the “Digestible Indispensable Amino Acid Score” or DIAAS be used. This system is based on the ileal digestibility of each amino acid in individual protein foods, but allows for the calculation of the quality of a meal consisting of a number of protein foods. The system can then be used to assess the quality of total protein intake consumed as a meal. Comparison of this value to the requirements for indispensable amino acids by humans can be used to estimate an individual’s protein status.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)18-23
Number of pages6
JournalAnimal Frontiers
Issue number4
StatePublished - Sep 28 2019


  • Amino acids
  • Animal protein
  • Digestible indispensable amino acid scores
  • Pig model
  • Plant protein
  • Protein quality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Animals
  • Animal Science and Zoology


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