Proteins are large molecules consisting of amino acids which our body and cells in our body need to function properly. Proteins play a vital role in our body structure, functions, and regulation of the body’s cells, tissues and organs.
It is said that a human body’s muscles, skin, bones and many other parts contain a significant amount of protein. In fact, protein accounts for about 20% of total body weight. Enzymes, antibodies and hormones are proteins and it also works as a neurotransmitter and carries oxygen in the blood (hemoglobin).
There are three main types of nutrients that are essential as energy sources for our human body:
Functions of protein in our body:
Virtually in every biological process, proteins play a vital role. Some of the main functions of proteins in our human body are:
Transportation and Storage:
Proteins have a unique ability to transport substances across cell membranes that other molecules can't penetrate. Haemoglobin is a type of protein that is responsible for carrying oxygen in red blood cell. Myoglobin is responsible for carrying oxygen. Ferritin is a protein that assists in the storage of iron and stores blood in the liver. Without protein for transportation and storage, we would not have blood to nourish our bodies.
Cell and Tissue growth:
Continuous supply of amino acids needed by the body in order to build the proteins that create tissue. Throughout our everyday lives, we constantly manufacture new tissues such as hair, teeth, skin and nails. The blood cells and skin cells last about a month while the cells situated in our digestive system lining last only two weeks. When the cells die and slough off, our bodies need new healthy tissue to replace them. It is only through the regeneration of new tissue that we can become healthy again.
Collagen, the most abundant protein found in the human body is a type of structural protein that is fibrous in nature. Collagen is responsible for giving strength and support to tissues such as skin and bone that undergo continual wear and tear. Athletes that work out two or more hours a day rely on the body’s ability to manufacture new collagen, which keeps their joints healthy and strong and prevents injury.
Coordination and Motion:
Proteins are a major component in muscle contraction. It occurs when two fibrous protein filament glide across each other. On a smaller scale, sperms are propelled in motion by their flagella, which are made up of contractile units made of protein. Thus protein is mainly behind the movement of sperm.
Antibodies are highly specific proteins that are responsible for detecting a foreign substance or known as "antigen". The body produces a specific antibody to respond to an antigen and inactivate it.
Nerve Generation and Impulses:
The nervous system is responsible for keeping the body in balance. When a certain stimulus triggers the nervous system, it responds with an appropriate reaction. This cannot occur without a receptor site awaiting the stimulus. These receptor sites are made of protein complexes and are responsible for transmitting nerve messages from cell to cell.
Protein has the unique ability to regulate the amount of fluid within a cell. The amount of protein within a cell will determine the cell's water content, as water is attracted to protein. When protein levels are low, fluid imbalances result. This type of system is important to prevent dehydration, as well as to enhance muscle and nerve cell function.
Foods high in protein are complete proteins in that they have sufficient quantity and variation of all twenty amino acids, Examples of complete proteins are animal-based foods such as fish, poultry, beef, pork. Eggs and dairy products also have sufficient amino acid composition and are considered complete. Protein is found in the following foods:
How much protein we require in a day? This is one common question that most of us wonder about. In general, it's recommended that 10–35% of your daily calories come from protein.
|Recommended Dietary Allowance for Protein|
|Grams of protein needed each day|
|Children ages 1 – 3||13|
|Children ages 4 – 8||19|
|Children ages 9 – 13||34|
|Girls ages 14 – 18||46|
|Boys ages 14 – 18||52|
|Women ages 19 – 70+||46|
|Men ages 19 – 70+||56|
Below listed are few examples on amounts of protein in particular foods:
Below mentioned are some of the best sources of protein for a vegetarian:
What happens when you do not eat the right proteins? What are the symptoms?
Protein is always associated with sportspeople and growing children. We all need sufficient amount of protein throughout our life for healing wear and tear of our body and keeping our immune system strong. Getting enough protein is not an issue with those who are non-vegetarians but is an issue with most strict vegetarians. We need about 10% to 15% of our calories from proteins or 0.8 to 1 gram for every kilo of our normal weight. The average sedentary adult should have 40 grams of protein per 100 pounds of body weight.
Some of the foods that are rich in proteins are:
These choices include fruits, vegetables and nuts. When combined with other nutrient rich foods, these vegetarian options help to provide the daily recommended amount of protein. Apples can be consumed in both raw and cooked form, with or without skin and contains a range of health benefits. 2 medium sized apples give around 0.60 grams of protein.
When served in slices with skin, it yields 0.30 grams of proteins. A balanced diet includes proper portions of not just protein, but should have a perfect proportion of vitamins, minerals, and carbohydrates too. Include at least some of the above mentioned food in your diet which combined with other important nutrients will yield positive and healthy results.
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