- Protein is essential for growth and repair of the body and maintenance of good health.
- Protein also provides energy; 1 gram provides 17 kJ (4 kcal).
- The Reference Nutrient Intake (RNI) is set at 0.75g of protein per kilogram bodyweight per day for adults.
- The amount of protein we need changes during a lifetime.
- Different foods contain different amounts and different combinations of amino acids (the building blocks of proteins). Protein from animal sources (e.g. meat, fish, eggs and dairy products) contains the full range of essential amino acids needed by the body. However, vegans and vegetarians can get all the amino acids they need by combining different plant sources of protein, e.g. pulses and cereals.
Importance of protein
Proteins are fundamental structural and functional elements within every cell of the body and are involved in a wide range of metabolic interactions. All cells and tissues contain protein, therefore protein is essential for growth and repair and the maintenance of good health. Protein provides the body with approximately 10 to 15% of its dietary energy and it is the second most abundant compound in the body, following water. A large proportion of this will be muscle (43% on average) with significant proportions being present in skin (15%) and blood (16%).
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