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Everything about the function of proteins in the body

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Proteins play an important role in the body. Among other things, they have the ability to generate tissues. Keep reading to learn more about the functions of these nutrients!

Do you know why protein is important for the body? These molecules, like other nutrients, are necessary for the body’s various vital processes, which is why all individuals must include them in their diet. Read on in today’s article to learn about the function of proteins in the body.

Proteins consist of structural units called amino acids. Some of them cannot be synthesized by humans and are therefore considered essential. The only way to get them is through diet.

Everything about the function of proteins in the body

In general, you can say that proteins are molecules that have four basic elements: carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, and nitrogen. Besides these, they may also have sulfur, iron, copper, or other minerals. Proteins play a fundamental role in living things as they are macronutrients necessary for optimal functioning. The function of proteins in the body is versatile and different, the main one of which helps to form tissues and muscle mass. Proteins also have many more functions in the body, which we will talk about next.

Proteins are very important for optimal function

  • Structure and plasticity. An important function that proteins have is to form cell structures. They repair tissues, provide support and provide elasticity and resistance. There are two classic examples of this. First, is collagen, which is found in both bones and tendons. Second, keratin, which is found in hair, skin, and nails. According to studies, protein intake is actually one of the basic components of creating muscle mass.
  • Regulation. Some hormones, such as insulin and glucagon, are hormonal proteins. These two hormones facilitate the regulation of glucose concentration in the blood. Another case is calcitonin, which is responsible for metabolizing calcium. In addition, there are proteins whose function is to control cell division and gene expression.
  • Defense. Proteins help create immunoglobulins. These are antibodies that can protect the body against foreign substances. Mucins or mucus substances, for example, protect the mucous membranes and have a bactericidal effect. In the body, we also find fibrinogen and thrombin, which form the final step in blood coagulation and thus prevent bleeding.
  • Homeostasis. Proteins have the ability to keep the body’s internal environment stable through a process called homeostasis. It ensures that pH, acidity, and osmotic balance in the body are always within normal values.

More functions controlled by protein

  • Enzymes. Many proteins are enzymes, which means that they help the body to react more quickly to stimuli. They can speed up this process thanks to their ability to interact with substrates. For example, there are enzymes that help break down the food we eat, such as amylase, lipase, and protease.
  • Transport. Proteins help transport substances in body fluids, such as oxygen (through hemoglobin and myoglobin) and fats (through lipoproteins). At the cellular level, it can be said that they are channels and receptors that enable the entry and exit of compounds through the cell membranes.
  • Reserve. Proteins are also an energy reservoir that the body can use as fuel when needed. Although it is not optimal for the body to use proteins as fuel, it is a possibility when carbohydrates are not available.

The different protein sources

You can get protein from both animal and vegetable foods, but the different proteins differ in quality. Proteins from animal foods have a high biological value because they contain all the amino acids that are essential for the body. However, some vegetable sources are deficient in them .

According to scientific studies, you should try to combine several different foods to achieve optimal quality when consuming proteins of plant origin, except in the case of soybeans. Otherwise, you will always be missing some important components.

You can find good proteins in:

  • Red and white meat
  • Egg
  • Dairy products
  • Legumes, especially lentils, soybeans, and chickpeas
  • Nuts and seeds

Various scientific studies recommend consuming 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of weight. This requirement varies according to each individual’s daily needs. For example, children, adolescents, the elderly, and even pregnant women should eat additional protein.

The need also differs when we talk about athletes, because they have a much higher level of physical activity. According to a study published by researchers in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, they should in fact consume at least 2 grams of protein per kilogram of weight, every day.

What you need to know about the function of proteins in the body

Protein is important for many of the body’s vital functions. For that reason, all individuals must keep track of consuming an adequate amount. As we mentioned earlier, high-quality protein can be obtained through foods of animal origin. Therefore, those following a vegetarian diet should consult a nutritionist.

As you can see, it is important to learn about the function of proteins in the body. After all, these molecules aren’t just important for making tissues. They are indispensable because of their ability to influence several processes in the body. Our health depends on them, therefore it is important to include enough protein in the diet.

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