Proteins are basically biochemical amalgams comprising one or several polypeptides. They are outsized molecules commonly present within the cells of all living organisms or in biological fluids like blood plasma. Proteins always enclose oxygen, hydrogen, carbon and nitrogen and nearly perpetually comprise sulfur and, at times, also contain phosphorus. Proteins are particularly distinguished by the mixture of alpha amino acids they give up when broken down (hydrolyzed) by alkalis, acids as well as particular enzymes.

In all probability, proteins are the most vital category of biochemical molecules, while it is also true that lipids and carbohydrates are indispensable for life too. In effect, proteins form the base for the main structural elements of animals as well as human tissues.

It may be mentioned that proteins have an extremely dissimilar functions and properties. Some of these are comparatively lifeless fibers, for instance keratins present in hair, wool or horn, or collagens present in tendons and connective tissues that contribute largely in animal creatures. Other types of proteins are easily dissolve in water or in watered down salt solutions like ovalbumin present in egg white, serum albumin present in blood plasma or the hemoglobin present in the red blood cells as well as their molecules almost have a spherical form. Contrary to the fibrous proteins, the second type of proteins is generally known as globular or corpuscular proteins. Several of such proteins may be acquired from crystallized form of water. In fact, a number of X-ray studies have revealed that protein crystals are extremely structured systems - genuine crystals in all manners. Each and every one of the identified enzymes, the vital mechanisms of the biological systems is proteins and several of them are present in the solution present in cytoplasm or the secretions by the cells. Others are relatively steadfastly attached to the bigger cellular arrangements. Several hormones, for instance, insulin and many of the hormones present in the pituitary gland are also basically proteins, like the entire antibodies that are called upon in the immunological responses. Foods that are rich in protein content are indispensible to the nourishment of all animals. Hence, there is no doubt that proteins are vital in the proper functioning of the entire living organisms.

Significantly, following hydrolysis (breaking up) several types of proteins have been found that simply give up alpha amino acids and nothing else. For instance, the enzyme pepsin and hormone insulin belong to this class of proteins. Such types of proteins are called simple proteins. Other class of proteins gives up more compounds, in addition to amino acids and this category of proteins is called conjugated proteins. In fact, there are several categories of conjugated proteins, including glyco-proteins plus mucoproteins that enclose carbohydrate groups. In addition, there are lipoproteins that enclose cholesterol, fatty acids and phospholipids; nucleoproteins that are related to nucleic acids; heme proteins, for instance, hemoglobin and quite a few oxidative enzymes that enclose iron-prophyrin or heme groups. Apart from these classes of proteins, there are several other types of this vital nutrient. It is interesting to note that a number of simpler viruses, for instance, tomato bushy stunt virus and tobacco mosaic virus, are actually nucleoproteins. In addition, to a great extent, each and every one of the viruses comprises proteins and nucleic acids.

There was a time when proteins were generally categorized depending on their solubility in a variety of solvents, such as albumins, which easily dissolve in distilled water; globulins, which do not dissolve in water, but are easily soluble in saline water solutions, prolamines, which dissolve in a mixture of water and alcohol, but do not dissolve in pure water or pure alcohol; as well as an assortment of additional categories. In fact, to a great extent, this jargon is subjective, though it continues to be used in giving names to several types of proteins.

Proteins that are identified as putting forth a particular action are usually named in such a manner that actually makes out this action. This is especially true in the case of enzyme proteins that enhance the rate of particular chemical reactions, as well as the protein hormones that stimulate precise physiological reactions.

Protein is a member of a class of nourishments known as macronutrients. They are named such because our body needs big quantities of proteins for maintaining its normal functioning. The proteins present in our body help to carry out several dissimilar functions that are vital for maintaining our life. In order to make certain that our body encloses appropriate quantities of protein to enable it to execute these essential functions, it is necessary that about 10 per cent to 35 per cent of our every day calorie intake must be in the form of protein consumption.

Health benefits of proteins

Proteins provide us with several health benefits. It is vital to consume sufficient amounts of protein-rich foods if you desire to sustain you body in good physical shape. Whenever the body sustains any wound, for instance, a cut, protein facilitates in repairing the harmed tissue. Together with carbohydrates, protein supplies energy for the body to carry out its normal functions and, at the same time, aids us from being exhausted. Among the other benefits of consuming protein-rich foods is that it facilitates the body in combating ailments and diseases, while ensuring that the immune system functions optimally.

It may be noted that our body muscles are partially composed of protein. One of the health benefits offered by protein is sustaining robust and vigorous muscles. In addition, protein also aids in building the skin, nails, hair and cartilage. Since the body does not have the ability to accumulate protein, it is vital to consume healthy or complete protein daily.

As mentioned earlier, protein is deemed to be 'complete' or 'incomplete' protein. Complete proteins are those that possess the entire nine essential amino acids, whereas incomplete protein does not contain all of them. Complete protein is generally sourced from animals, such as meat, chicken, fish, poultry products and milk. On the other hand, almonds, beans, all nuts and whole grains are healthy sources of incomplete proteins.

In order to obtain the appropriate health benefits offered by protein, majority of the people require roughly 0.8 grams of protein for every kilogram of their body weight every day. However, at times more demands are made on the body, for instance, during pregnancy or when an individual is recuperating from any injury or ailment, the body requires additional amounts of protein, both to heal the body speedily as well as to help the body in performing its functions normally. In addition growing children as well as teenagers too require additional intake of protein to facilitate their growth.

In the absence of protein, it would be difficult for our body to carry out its normal functions. Lack of protein may also result in the development of several health conditions, such as hypotension and anemia. In addition, people with protein deficiency may also suffer from problems related to circulation as well as sluggish healing of any injury or slow recuperation following any surgery. Since protein sustains and comprises the muscles, lack of this nutrient will make the muscle mass diminish or become feeble. Such individuals will generally suffer from debility and exhaustion.

While protein offers plenty of health benefits, excessive of any good thing may also prove to be harmful. Often consuming a very protein-rich diet with very few carbohydrates, it may result in a number of health problems. In such case it is likely that the body will form ketones and discharge them into the blood stream. In turn, this results in ketosis, which may cause nausea and fatigue. In fact, this is never a healthy state of the body.

Among the most important contributions of protein is to endow our body with support to all the tissues, which makes one able to stand as well as be mobile. Collagen is the protein which is present in abundant amount in our body and it forms a major element in our bones, tendons as well as ligaments that form the joints of our body. On the other hand, the muscles of our body enclose two proteins myosin and actin, which enable our muscles to contract appropriately.

It may be noted that proteins are vital to sustain the fluid balance in our body, in addition to maintaining the acid-base equilibrium. Even the smallest blood vessels in our body, the capillaries, enclose protein which exerts a pull on the fluids. These proteins assist in drawing water into the capillaries, thereby avoiding the accumulation of fluids in our tissues. This, in turn, puts off a health condition called edema, which is marked by fluid upsurge in our tissues.

In addition, proteins also assist in changing the pH of our blood to facilitate maintaining the correct acid-base balance in the body. The standard pH of our blood is roughly 7.4. Even if the pH of our blood alters a little, it may result in the development of grave health conditions. Proteins work in the form of buffers in our blood. In case the blood turns to be acidic, proteins get rid of the surplus hydrogen ions present in the blood. On the other hand, if the blood becomes extremely alkaline, proteins work by depositing more hydrogen ions in the blood to maintain the normal pH level.

Different kinds of proteins

Protein obtained from animal sources, for instance milk and meat is described as 'complete', since this type of protein comprises the entire nine essential amino acids. It may be noted that majority of the proteins that are obtained from vegetable is deemed to be 'incomplete', as they are short of one or several essential amino acids. This may prove to be a major cause of worry for people who do not consume milk or foods prepared with milk. Nevertheless, it is also possible for people who consume vegetarian meals to receive the supply of all the nine amino acids by consuming an assortment of vegetable foods that contain rich amounts of protein.

It may be noted that proteins obtained from plants, for instance cereals, grains, fruits and other vegetables are all known as 'incomplete' proteins and, hence, it is essential to supplement them with foods that are based on an additional complete source of protein.

For example, one is unable to get all the nine essential amino acids required by them from just consuming peanuts. However, if they eat whole-grain bread with peanut butter, they are, more or less, receiving their required supply of all the essential amino acids. Similarly, consuming red beans will not provide anyone with all things required by them. However, consuming red beans along with rice will be enough to fulfill their needs.

Here is good news, and that is you need not consume the entire essential amino acids in each meal. Providing you consume an assortment of proteins from different sources all through the day, your body will take hold of anything it requires from each meal.

Before concluding, it needs to be mentioned that foods having rich amino acid content are the most excellent source of protein, as amino acids are the deciding factor regarding the amount of protein the our body is able to make use of. While 50 per cent amino acids require to be provided through the foods, the remaining 50 per cent may be amalgamated inside our body for the acids that have been already ingested. Food stuff that contains the maximum amount of protein includes fish, meat and milk. Therefore, it is essential to consume some of these substances every day.


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