:Protein is crucial to good health as they are the building blocks of life and every cell in the human body contains protein. Our bodies need protein from the foods that we eat in order to build and maintain bones, muscles and skin. Proteins are made out of smaller molecules called amino acids, which are linked together like beads on a string. These linked molecules form long protein chains which are folded into different intricate shapes. Some amino acids are produced by the body while others are considered “essential” and must be obtained through your diet. There are 20 amino acids that help form the thousands of different proteins in your body. There are many ways in which our body utilizes protein, including some of the following:
As previously mentioned, some amino acids are produced by the body while others must be obtained through the diet and are therefore considered “essential”. “Nonessential amino acids” are made by the body from essential amino acids or in the normal breakdown of proteins and “conditional amino acids” are needed in times of illness and stress (2).
The right amount of protein for any one individual depends on many factors, including activity level, age, muscle mass, goals and current state of health. Animal products such as meat, fish, eggs, and dairy provide provide essential amino acids, but other sources of protein also include:
It is great to get your protein from a variety of sources as that also increases the variety of other beneficial nutrients as well! Try switching up your protein sources - maybe even create a “meatless” day where you obtain your protein from plant sources that day. Experiment and have fun!
Mackenthun's In-Store Dietitian
Medical and health information presented here is intended to be general in nature, and should not be viewed as a substitute for professional advice. Please consult with a health care professional for all matters relating to personal medical and health care issues. In case of an emergency, please call 911.