9 Important Functions of Protein in Your Body!

These are the important functions of protein in your body that you need to know and for good health. In fact, the name comes from the Greek word proteos, which means “primary” or “first place”. Proteins are made up of amino acids that join together to form long chains. You can think of a protein as a series of beads where each bead is an amino acid .

Plus, there are 20 amino acids that help form thousands of different proteins in your body. Proteins do most of their work in the cell and do many jobs.

Important functions of protein in your body:

1. Growth and maintenance:

One of the important functions of protein in your body is for tissue growth and maintenance. However, your body’s proteins are in a constant state of renewal.

Under normal circumstances, your body breaks down the same amount of protein used to build and repair tissue. Other times it breaks down more protein than it can create, thus increasing your body’s needs.

This usually happens during periods of illness, during pregnancy and while breastfeeding. People recovering from injury or surgery, older adults, and athletes require more protein as well.

2. Causes biochemical reactions:

This is another one of the important functions of protein in your body. Furthermore, enzymes are proteins that assist the thousands of biochemical reactions that take place inside and outside your cells.

The design of enzymes allows them to combine with other molecules within the cell, called substrates, which catalyze reactions essential to its metabolism. In addition, enzymes can also function outside the cell, such as digestive enzymes like lactase and sucrose, which help digest sugar.

Some enzymes require other molecules, such as vitamins or minerals, for a reaction to take place. Bodily functions that rely on enzymes include:

  • digestion ,
  • Production of energy,
  • Blood clotting,
  • Muscular contraction.

The lack or improper function of these enzymes can result in disease.

3. Acts as a messenger:

Notifying your organs of your tasks is one of the important functions of protein in your body.  Some proteins are hormones, which are chemical messengers that help communicate between cells, tissues, and organs.

They are made and secreted by tissues or endocrine glands and then transported in the blood to target tissues or organs where they bind to protein receptors on the cell surface.

Hormones can be grouped into three main categories:

  • Proteins and peptides: They are made up of chains of amino acids, ranging from a few to several hundred.
  • Steroids: These are made from fatty cholesterol. The sex hormones, testosterone and estrogen, are steroid-based.
  • Amines: These are made from the individual amino acids tryptophan or tyrosine, which help produce hormones related to sleep and metabolism .

Protein and polypeptides make up the majority of your body’s hormones.

Some examples include:

  • Insulin: signals the uptake of glucose or sugar into the cell.
  • Glucagon: signals the breakdown of stored glucose in the liver.
  • hGH (Human Growth Hormone): Stimulates the growth of various tissues, including bone.
  • ADH (antidiuretic hormone): signals the kidneys to reabsorb water.
  • ACTH (Adrenocorticotropic Hormone): Stimulates the release of cortisol, a key factor in metabolism.

4. Provides structure:

Some proteins are fibrous and provide cells and tissues with stiffness and stiffness. These proteins include keratin, collagen and elastin, which help form the connective structure of certain structures in the body.

Keratin is a structural protein that is found in your skin, hair and nails. Collagen is the most abundant protein in your body and is the structural protein of bones, tendons, ligaments and skin.

Elastin is several times more flexible than collagen . Its high elasticity allows many tissues in the body to return to their original shape after stretching or contraction, such as the uterus, lungs and arteries.

5. Maintain proper pH:

Maintaining the proper pH is another of  the important functions of protein in your body. Additionally, protein plays a vital role in regulating acid and base concentrations in your blood and other body fluids.

The balance between acids and bases is measured using the pH scale. It ranges from 0 to 14, with 0 being the most acidic, 7 neutral and 14 the most alkaline. Examples of the pH value of common substances include:

  • pH 2: stomach acid
  • pH 4: tomato juice
  • pH 5: black coffee
  • pH 7.4: human blood
  • pH 10: milk of magnesia
  • pH 12: soapy water

A variety of buffer systems allow your body fluids to maintain normal pH ranges. A constant pH is necessary as even a slight change in pH can be harmful or potentially lethal. The way your body regulates pH is with proteins. An example is hemoglobin, a protein that forms red blood cells.

Hemoglobin binds to small amounts of acid, helping to maintain the blood’s normal pH value. The other buffer systems in your body include phosphate and bicarbonate.

6. Balance fluids:

One of the important functions of protein in your body is to balance your body fluids. In addition, proteins regulate bodily processes to maintain fluid balance.

Albumin and globulin are proteins in the blood that help maintain the body’s fluid balance by attracting and retaining water. If you don’t get enough protein, your albumin  and globulin levels will eventually go down.

7. Strengthens Immune Health:

Proteins help form immunoglobulins, or antibodies, to fight infections. Antibodies are proteins in the blood that help protect the body from harmful invaders such as bacteria and viruses, this being one of  the important functions of protein in your body.

When these foreign invaders enter your cells, your body produces antibodies that mark them for elimination. Without these antibodies, bacteria and viruses would be free to multiply and burden your body with the disease they cause.

Once your body has produced antibodies against a particular bacteria or virus, your cells never forget how to make them.

This allows the antibodies to respond quickly the next time a particular disease agent invades your body. As a result, your body develops immunity against the diseases to which it is exposed.

8. Transports and stores nutrients:

This is one of the important functions of protein in your body. In addition, carrier proteins transport substances through the bloodstream – into cells, outside cells, or inside cells.

The substances carried by these proteins include nutrients such as vitamins or minerals, blood sugar, cholesterol, and oxygen.

For example, hemoglobin is a protein that carries oxygen from the lungs to the body’s tissues. Glucose transporters (GLUT) transport glucose into cells, while lipoproteins transport cholesterol and other fats in the blood.

Transporters are specific, meaning they only bind to specific substances. In other words, a protein transporter that moves glucose does not move cholesterol .

9. Provides power:

Proteins can provide your body with energy. Protein contains four calories per gram, the same amount of energy that carbohydrates provide. Fats provide more energy, with nine calories per gram. However, the last thing your body wants to use for energy is protein, as this valuable nutrient is widely used throughout the body.

Carbohydrates and fats are much better suited for providing energy, as your body maintains reserves for use as fuel. Also, they are metabolized more efficiently compared to protein.

More information:

Protein has many roles in your body. It helps repair and build your body’s tissues, allows metabolic reactions to occur, and coordinates bodily functions. In addition to providing your body with structural structure, proteins also maintain proper pH and fluid balance.

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Finally, they keep your immune system strong, transport and store nutrients, and can act as a source of energy if needed. Collectively, these functions make protein one of the most important nutrients for your health.

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