Protein in nutrition

Protein in nutrition

Proteins are broken down in the stomach during digestion by enzymes known as proteases into smaller polypeptides to provide amino acids for the organism, including the essential amino acids that the organism cannot biosynthesize itself. Aside from their role in protein synthesis, amino acids are also important nutritional sources of nitrogen.

Proteins, like carbohydrates, contain 4 kilocalories per gram as opposed to lipids which contain 9 kilocalories and alcohols which contain 7 kilocalories. The liver and to a much lesser extent the kidneys, can convert amino acids used by cells in protein biosynthesis into glucose by a process known as gluconeogenesis. The amino acids leucine and lysine are exceptions.


Dietary sources of protein include meats, eggs, nuts, grains, legumes, and dairy products such as milk and cheese." [ USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 20] ", United States Department of Agriculture. Last modified on September 26, 2007.] Of the 20 amino acids used by humans in protein synthesis, 11 "nonessential" amino acids can be synthesized in sufficient quantities by the adult body, and are not required in the diet (though there are exceptions for some in special cases). The nine essential amino acids [cite web | title = PROTEIN AND AMINO ACID REQUIREMENTS IN HUMAN NUTRITION | url = | author = World Health Organization, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations , United Nations University | publisher = WHO Press | year = 2007 | accessdate = 2008-07-08 | quote = The indispensable amino acids are leucine, isoleucine, valine, lysine, threonine, tryptophan, methionine, phenylalanine and histidine. Histidine is considered to be an indispensable amino acid because of the detrimental effects on haemoglobin concentrations that have been observed when individuals are fed histidine-free diets. ] , plus arginine for the youngcite web | title = Amino Acids | url = | publisher = Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics, University of Arizona | accessdate = 2008-07-08 ] , cannot be created by the body and must come from dietary sources.

Most animal sources and certain vegetable sources have the complete complement of all the essential amino acids. However, it is not necessary to consume a single food source that contains all the essential amino acids, as long as all the essential amino acids are eventually present in the diet: see complete protein and protein combining.


Different proteins have different levels of biological availability to the human body. Many methods have been introduced to measure protein utilization and retention rates in humans. They include biological value, Net Protein Utilization or NPU, and PDCAAS (Protein Digestibility Corrected Amino Acids Score) which was developed by the FDA as an improvement over the Protein Efficiency Ratio (PER) method. These methods examine which proteins are most efficiently used by the body. In general they conclude that animal complete proteins that contain all the essential amino acids such as milk, eggs, and meat, and the complete vegetable protein soy are of most value to the body. [ [ Protein Quality Comparison Chart] . Retrieved from the [ Whey Protein Institute] on 2008-05-24.] .

Egg whites have been determined to have the standard biological value of 100 (though some sources may have biological values higher), which means that most of the absorbed nitrogen from egg white protein can be retained and used by the body. The biological value of plant protein sources is considerably lower than animal sources. For example, corn has a BA of 70 while peanuts have a relatively low BA of 40. [cite book |author=Wardlaw, Gordon M. |title=Perspectives in Nutrition |publisher=McGraw-Hill Higher Education |location=Boston |year= |pages= |isbn=0-07-282750-5 |oclc= |doi=pp. 259,260]


Digestion typically begins in the stomach when pepsinogen is converted to pepsin by the action of hydrochloric acid, and continued by trypsin and chymotrypsin in the intestine. The amino acids and their derivatives into which dietary protein is degraded are then absorbed by the gastrointestinal tract. The absorption rates of individual amino acids are highly dependent on the protein source; for example, the digestibilities of many amino acids in humans differ between soy and milk proteins [Gaudichon C, Bos C, Morens C, Petzke KJ, Mariotti F, Everwand J, Benamouzig R, Dare S, Tome D, Metges CC. (2002). Ileal losses of nitrogen and amino acids in humans and their importance to the assessment of amino acid requirements. "Gastroenterology" 123(1):50-9.] and between individual milk proteins, beta-lactoglobulin and casein. [Mahe S, Roos N, Benamouzig R, Davin L, Luengo C, Gagnon L, Gausserges N, Rautureau J, Tome D. (1996). Gastrojejunal kinetics and the digestion of [15N] beta-lactoglobulin and casein in humans: the influence of the nature and quantity of the protein. "Am J Clin Nutr" 63(4):546-52. ] For milk proteins, about 50% of the ingested protein is absorbed between the stomach and the jejunum and 90% is absorbed by the time the digested food reaches the ileum. [Mahe S, Marteau P, Huneau JF, Thuillier F, Tome D. (1994). Intestinal nitrogen and electrolyte movements following fermented milk ingestion in man. "Br J Nutr" 71(2):169-80.] Biological value (BV) is a measure of the proportion of absorbed protein from a food which becomes incorporated into the proteins of the organism's body.

Dietary requirements

According to the recently updated Dietary Reference Intake guidelines, women aged 19–70 need to consume 46 grams of protein per day, while men aged 19–70 need to consume 56 grams of protein per day to avoid a deficiency. [ [ Dietary Reference Intakes: Macronutrients] . Institute of Medicine. Retrieved on 2008-05-18] The difference is because men's bodies generally have more muscle mass than those of women, or this may be attributed to weight difference by taking 0.8 g(of protein)/kg of lean body weight.

Because the body is continually breaking down protein from tissues, even adults who do not fall into the above categories need to include adequate protein in their diet every day. If enough energy is not taken in through diet, as in the process of starvation, the body will use protein from the muscle mass to meet its energy needs, leading to muscle wasting over time.If the body does not consume adequate protein in nutrition, then muscle will also waste as more vital cellular processes (e.g. respiration enzymes, blood cells) recycle muscle protein for their own requirements.

Other recommendations suggest 0.8 gram of protein per kilogram of lean bodyweight per day while other sources suggest that higher intakes of 1-1.4 grams of protein per kilogram of bodyweight for enhanced athletes or those with a large muscle mass. [Tarnopolsky MA, Atkinson SA, MacDougall JD, Chesley A, Phillips S, Schwarcz HP. "Evaluation of protein requirements for trained strength athletes". "Journal of Applied Physiology" 1992 Nov; 73 (5): 1986-1995. PMID 1474076]

How much protein needed in a person's daily diet is determined in large part by overall energy intake, as well as by the body's need for nitrogen and essential amino acids. Physical activity and exertion as well as enhanced muscular mass increase the need for protein. Requirements are also greater during childhood for growth and development, during pregnancy or when breast-feeding in order to nourish a baby, or when the body needs to recover from malnutrition or trauma or after an operation.cite web | title = PROTEIN AND AMINO ACID REQUIREMENTS IN HUMAN NUTRITION | url = | author = World Health Organization, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations , United Nations University | publisher = WHO Press | year = 2007 | accessdate = 2008-07-08 ]


In developing countries

Protein deficiency is a serious cause of ill health and death in developing countries. Protein deficiency plays a part in the disease kwashiorkor. War, famine, overpopulation and other factors can increase rates of malnutrition and protein deficiency. Protein deficiency can lead to reduced intelligence or mental retardation, see deficiency in proteins, fats, carbohydrates.

In countries that suffer from widespread protein deficiency, food is generally full of plant fibers, which makes adequate energy and protein consumption very difficult. Symptoms of kwashiorkor include apathy, diarrhea, inactivity, failure to grow, flaky skin, fatty liver, and edema of the belly and legs. This edema is explained by the normal functioning of proteins in fluid balance and lipoprotein transport. [cite book |author=Jeffery Schwartz; Bryant, Carol A.; DeWalt, Kathleen Musante; Anita Courtney |title=The cultural feast: an introduction to food and society |publisher=Thomson/Wadsworth |location=Belmont, CA |year=2003 |pages= |isbn=0-534-52582-2 |oclc= |doi=pp. 282,283] [cite web |url= |title=Apache Tomcat/6.0.14 - Error report |accessdate=2008-03-11 |format= |work=]

Dr. Latham, director of the Program in International Nutrition at Cornell University claims that malnutrition is a frequent cause of death and disease in third world countries. Protein-energy malnutrition (PEM) affects 500 million people and kills 10 million annually. In severe cases white blood cell numbers decline and the ability of leukocytes to fight infection decreases. [ [] ]

In developed countries

Protein deficiency is rare in developed countries but small numbers of people have difficulty getting sufficient protein due to poverty. Protein deficiency can also occur in developed countries in people who are dieting or crash dieting to lose weight, or in older adults, who may have a poor diet. Convalescent people recovering from surgery, trauma, or illness may become protein deficient if they do not increase their intake to support their increased needs. A deficiency can also occur if the protein a person eats is incomplete and fails to supply all the essential amino acids.

Excess consumption

Because the body is unable to store energy in the form of protein, excess consumed protein is broken down and converted into sugars or fatty acids. The liver removes nitrogen from the amino acids, so that they can be burned as fuel, and the nitrogen is incorporated into urea, the substance that is excreted by the kidneys. These organs can normally cope with any extra workload but if kidney disease occurs, a decrease in protein will often be prescribed. [cite web
url =
title = Fueling For Endurance: Ten Mistakes Endurance Athletes Make and How You Can Avoid Them
author = Born, Steve
publisher = UltraCycling Magazine

Many researchers think excessive intake of protein forces increased calcium excretion. If there is to be excessive intake of protein, it is thought that a regular intake of calcium would be able to stabilize, or even increase the uptake of calcium by the small intestine, which would be more beneficial in older women. [Kerstetter, J. E., O'Brien, K. O., Caseria, D.M, Wall, D. E. & Insogna, K. L (2005) "The impact of dietary protein on calcium absorption and kinetic measures of bone turnover in women". "J Clin Endocrinol Metab" (2005) Vol 90, p26–31. PMID 15546911]

Specific proteins are often the cause of allergies and allergic reactions to certain foods. This is because the structure of each form of protein is slightly different; some may trigger a response from the immune system while others remain perfectly safe. Many people are allergic to casein, the protein in milk; gluten, the protein in wheat and other grains; the particular proteins found in peanuts; or those in shellfish or other seafoods.

Testing in foods

The classic assay for protein concentration in food is the Kjeldahl method. This test determines the total nitrogen in a sample. The only major component of most food which contains nitrogen is protein (fat, carbohydrate and dietary fibre do not contain nitrogen). If the amount of nitrogen is multiplied by a factor depending on the kinds of protein expected in the food the total protein can be determined. On food labels the protein is given by the nitrogen multiplied by 6.25, because the average nitrogen content of proteins is about 16%. The Kjeldahl test is used because it is the method the AOAC International has adopted and is therefore used by many food standards agencies around the world.

ee also

*Biological Value
*Essential amino acid
*High-protein diet
*Low-protein diet


Related Links

* [ Malnutrition in Third World Countries]

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Игры ⚽ Поможем сделать НИР

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Protein (disambiguation) — Protein is a class of biomolecules composed of amino acid chains.Protein may also refer to:Biochemistry* Antifreeze protein, class of polypeptides produced by certain fish, vertebrates, plants, fungi and bacteria * Conjugated protein, protein… …   Wikipedia

  • Nutrition — The Nutrition Facts table indicates the amounts of nutrients which experts recommend to limit or consume in adequate amounts. Nutrition (also called nourishment or aliment) is the provision, to cells and organisms, of the materials necessary (in… …   Wikipedia

  • Protein (nutrient) — This article is about protein as a nutrient. For protein as a class of molecule, see protein. For other uses, see bodybuilding supplement. Amino acids are the building blocks of protein. Proteins are polymer chains made of amino acids linked… …   Wikipedia

  • Protein adulteration in the People's Republic of China — refers to the adulteration and contamination of several food and feed ingredients with inexpensive melamine and other compounds such as cyanuric acid, ammeline and ammelide. These adulterants can be used to inflate the apparent protein content of …   Wikipedia

  • Protein combining — (also protein complementing) is a controversial theory that vegetarians, particlarly vegans, must eat certain complementary foods like beans and rice together in the same meal. The purpose of protein combining is to ensure that plant foods with… …   Wikipedia

  • Nutrition disorder — Classification and external resources MeSH D009748 Nutritional diseases are diseases in humans that are directly or indirectly caused by a lack of essential nutrients in the diet. Nutritional diseases are commonly associated with chronic malnutri …   Wikipedia

  • Protein sparing — is the process by which the body derives energy from sources other than protein. Such sources can include fatty tissues, dietary fats and carbohydrates. Protein sparing conserves muscle tissue. The balance between digestible protein (DP) and… …   Wikipedia

  • Protein toxicity — with proteinuria can result in those with preexisting kidney disease, or those who have lost kidney function due to age. Consuming more than 2.0 g/kg/day in protein can stress the kidney even in otherwise healthy people. [… …   Wikipedia

  • nutrition, human — Introduction       process by which substances in food are transformed into body tissues and provide energy for the full range of physical and mental activities that make up human life.   The study of human nutrition is interdisciplinary in… …   Universalium

  • nutrition — nutritional, nutritionary, adj. nutritionally, adv. /nooh trish euhn, nyooh /, n. 1. the act or process of nourishing or of being nourished. 2. the science or study of, or a course of study in, nutrition, esp. of humans. 3. the process by which… …   Universalium

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”