The Importance of Proteins

peptides is the main building block of most body tissues and organs. It plays a crucial role in repairing cells, making energy, and building muscles. It also helps the body use vitamins, minerals, sugars, cholesterol and oxygen. Proteins act as cargo ships that transport essential nutrients throughout the blood stream to cells and tissues.

A protein consists of many amino acid building blocks linked together in long chains. Each amino acid has a unique property shaping the overall characteristics of a protein. There are 20 different amino acid building blocks that can be combined in millions of ways to create proteins with different functions. The specific number and order of amino acids in a protein is called its sequence. The amino acid sequence is coded in a protein’s genes, a segment of DNA. A combination of three adjacent DNA building blocks, called a codon, codes for an amino acid.

A protein may have a globular (compact and soluble) or fibrous structure. Hemoglobin, for example, a protein found in red blood cells, is a compact, spherical protein that binds and transports oxygen molecules in the blood.

The amount of protein needed to meet an individual’s health needs varies from person to person. But most people get enough protein from the food they eat, including milk and other dairy products, eggs, meat, fish, poultry, beans, nuts, seeds, whole grains and fortified soy beverages. A high-protein diet can lead to excess body fat, so it is important to eat protein foods in moderation.

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