Importance of proteins
Proteins are large, complex molecules that play many critical roles in the body. They do most of the work in cells and are required for the structure, function, and regulation of the body’s tissues and organs. Proteins are made up of hundreds or thousands of smaller units called amino acids, which are attached to one another in long chains. There are 20 different types of amino acids that can be combined to make a protein. The sequence of amino acids determines each protein’s unique 3-dimensional structure and its specific function.
Functions of proteins
Repair and Maintenance
Pregnant women need to increase protein intake in order to facilitate their child’s development. Protein is termed the building block of the body. It is called this because protein is vital in the maintenance of body tissue, including development and repair. Hair, skin, eyes, muscles and organs are all made from protein. This is why children need more protein per pound of body weight than adults; they are growing and developing new protein tissue.
Protein is a major source of energy. If you consume more protein than you need for body tissue maintenance and other necessary functions, your body will use it for energy. If it is not needed due to sufficient intake of other energy sources such as carbohydrates, the protein will be used to create fat and becomes part of fat cells.
Protein is involved in the creation of some hormones. These substances help control body functions that involve the interaction of several organs. Insulin, a small protein, is an example of a hormone that regulates blood sugar. It involves the interaction of organs such as the pancreas and the liver. Secretin, is another example of a protein hormone. This substance assists in the digestive process by stimulating the pancreas and the intestine to create necessary digestive juices.
The creation of DNA could not happen without the action of protein enzymes. Enzymes are proteins that increase the rate of chemical reactions in the body. In fact, most of the necessary chemical reactions in the body would not efficiently proceed without enzymes. For example, one type of enzyme functions as an aid in digesting large protein, carbohydrate and fat molecules into smaller molecules, while another assists the creation of DNA.
Transportation and Storage of Molecules
Protein is a major element in transportation of certain molecules. For example, hemoglobin is a protein that transports oxygen throughout the body. Protein is also sometimes used to store certain molecules. Ferritin is an example of a protein that combines with iron for storage in the liver.
Antibodies formed by protein help prevent many illnesses and infections. Protein forms antibodies that help prevent infection, illness and disease. These proteins identify and assist in destroying antigens such as bacteria and viruses. They often work in conjunction with the other immune system cells. For example, these antibodies identify and then surround antigens in order to keep them contained until they can be destroyed by white blood cells.
High protein foods include meat, fish, cheese, tofu, beans, lentils, yogurt, eggs, nuts, and seeds.
Read the detailed list of protein rich food here: Food rich in protein