Amino Acid Needs for Early Growth and Development1,2

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Few data exist on amino acid needs in infants and children, mainly because until recently, amino acid requirements were determined using nitrogen balance. The advent of the indicator amino acid oxidation (IAAO) method permits studies to be conducted with minimal adaptation to the test amino acid. In light of the very limited data available for human infants, toddlers, and children, it was proposed that a factorial approach should be used to estimate their essential amino acid requirements. Using amino acid oxidation techniques, dietary essential amino acid requirements in adults have been nearly completed. Data on changes in total body potassium are now available for infants and children. From these data it is possible to calculate protein deposition during growth, and hence, it is now possible to estimate the amino acid requirements in children using a factorial model. However, there has been no independent verification of the model. Recently we determined total branched chain-amino acid requirements for young adults and children, and we can provide data to support the validity of the factorial model. IAAO has been used on children with liver disease as young as 3 y. The minimally invasive IAAO model opens the door for determination of dietary essential amino acid requirements in infants and children during health and disease. For study of preterm neonates, we used a piglet model to show that the amino acid needs for parenteral feeding are markedly reduced for several essential amino acids; this suggests that current commercial total parenteral nutrition amino acid solutions are less than ideal. J. Nutr. 134: 1566S-1568S, 2004.

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