Proteins are made up of small units called amino acids. The type of protein depends on how many amino acids link together- a typical protein may contain as many as 500 amino acids.
Your body can make some amino acids by itself, however there are some known as essential amino acids which need to be supplied by the diet. There are 8 essential amino acids for adults.
Protein is needed for growing and repairing the body. It is an important part of structural tissues, such as skin and muscles as well as essential for producing hormones and other enzymes which are needed for a range of body functions.
Animal foods such as meat, fish, eggs, milk and other milk products all provide a high quality source of protein and essential amino acids.
Plants also provide protein and good sources include soya, pulses, nuts and cereals. It is important if you get your protein from vegetable sources to eat many different types of protein containing foods to ensure that you are getting all the amino acids that your body needs. For further information on vegetarian diets click here
Requirements for protein change throughout your lifetime and is determined by your age and sex. It is recommended that women should eat 45g a day while men, as they usually have a larger build, are recommended to consume around 55g per day. We get enough protein from our diet in the UK.
For further information visit:
British Nutrition Foundation
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