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The Importance of Protein to the Human Body

Posted by on March 14, 2013

protein rich foodsProtein is an essential nutrient that is necessary for the proper growth and function of the human body. It is found in every cell and tissue, including skin, hair, muscles, organs, and glands.

The body needs protein to make new cells, create hormone, and strengthen the immune system. It is also crucial for building and maintaining muscle mass. Without adequate protein, no matter how much exercise you do, you won’t be able to build muscles.

Proteins are large molecules that made up of a set of 20 amino acids which are responsible for the formation of cells, hormones, muscles, and many other tissues in the body. Of the 20 amino acids, half are produced by the body. While the other half (called essential amino acids) must obtain from the diet.

What happen if your body does not get enough protein?

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), approximately 500 million people suffer from protein malnutrition. Inadequate protein intake may cause the body to break down muscle tissues.

In addition to that, protein malnutrition can decrease immunity, and cause changes in skin color and result in hair loss. Extreme protein malnutrition can leads to kwashiorkor, a condition characterized by irritability, growth failure and swollen belly. The disease is common in poor countries, and often occurs during natural disaster.

Who needs more protein?

  • Children
  • Athletes
  • Active adults
  • Pregnant women
  • And those who suffer from protein-energy malnutrition

How much of proteins do I need per day?

The daily requirement of protein differs from person to person. For normal adults, the recommended daily allowance (RDA) is 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. The RDA increases to 1.0 gram/ kilogram of body weight in elderly people.

For those who are active, overweight or are in the teenage years, the amount of protein needs should be higher, you will likely need to increase your protein intake from the standard RDA of 0.8 g/kg of body weight to 1.2-1.7 g/kg. Also, the RDA increases by 30 grams on those who are pregnant.

What are the Protein rich foods?

Protein rich foods can be found in animal and plant products. Although all animal and plant products contain protein, but the amount and quality of this protein can vary widely.

Protein from animal sources contains all the essential amino acids that your body needs to keep fit and healthy. Some of these foods include poultry, fish, shellfish, eggs, milk, pork, and beef.

Plant protein contains many amino acids, but there is no single source contains all of the essential amino acids. Some of these foods include beans, cereals, legumes, grains, nuts, seeds and soy products.

To get all the essential amino acids from plant sources, you need to combine different plant proteins to make up the complete protein. For example eating rice with beans or using cereal on milk. A few plant sources do offer complete protein without combining are soy and quinoa.