Protein, a powerful macronutrient like carbohydrates and fat, is a fundamental, structural and functional element of every living cell of the body, which plays an essential role in a wide range of metabolic interactions. In addition, our body utilizes this nutrient to build, repair and maintain several tissues and to make important enzymes, hormones, and other body chemicals. Protein is an important building block of bones, muscles, cartilage, skin, and blood. Our hair and nails are mostly made of protein. Thus, it is very crucial for all of us to maintain an adequate protein intake in the diet during our lifetime, particularly as we get older.
Proteins are the large molecules that are made up of long chains of amino acids—generally termed the ‘building blocks of proteins.’ Our body requires 20 different amino acids, which join-together to make different types of proteins that are essential to maintain good health. Of the 20 amino acids, 9 are considered as ‘essential amino acids’ (i.e. they are not made by the body and hence, must be obtained from diet), whereas remaining 11 amino acids are called ‘non-essential’, as they are made by the body itself.
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