6 Important Roles of Protein

Protein is incredibly important. If we don’t get enough from our diet, our health and body composition will suffer. However, most official nutrition organizations recommend a fairly modest protein intake.

The DRI (Dietary Reference Intake) is 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight, or just 0.36 grams per pound.

This amounts to just:

  • 56 grams per day for the average sedentary man.
  • 46 grams per day for the average sedentary woman.

Although this meager amount may be enough to prevent deficiencies, studies show that it’s far from sufficient to ensure proper body composition and optimal health.

Protein is an essential substance, and is found in every cell in the human body. In fact, except for water, protein is the most abundant substance in your body. This protein is manufactured by your body utilizing the dietary protein you consume. It is used in many vital processes, and thus, needs to be consistently replaced. You can accomplish this by regularly consuming foods that contain protein.

Here are 6 important roles that protein plays with our body

1. Repair and Maintenance

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.

2. Energy

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.

3. Hormones

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.

4. 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 in the creation of DNA.

5. 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.

6. Antibodies

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.

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