Proteins are complex compounds vital for the body. Now and then, a protein-rich diet, its functions, and its importance are mentioned. Be it a health professional or a layman, everyone knows protein is important.
This long chain of amino acids is crucial for the body in numerous ways. Although the majority of people know protein is important, they may not understand why.
So if you are looking for deeper insight into the functions of protein and to understand your body mechanism better, follow the article.
- 1 12 Functions Of Proteins In The Human Body
- 1.1 Energy Provider For The Body
- 1.2 Growth And Tissue Maintainence
- 1.3 Wound Healing
- 1.4 Formation Of Antibodies
- 1.5 Transporting Nutrients
- 1.6 Ovalbumin
- 1.7 Fluid Balance
- 1.8 Hormones
- 1.9 Glucagon
- 1.10 pH Balanced
- 1.11 Provides Structure
- 1.12 May Help In Chemical Reactions
- 2 Conclusion
12 Functions Of Proteins In The Human Body
Energy Provider For The Body
Protein is a source of energy like fats and carbohydrates. It provides up to 4 calories per gram which is equivalent to that of carbohydrates.
However, fats stand at the top providing 9 calories per gram. The body may not turn to protein for energy if you consume a balanced diet with enough calories from fats and carbs.
However, protein boosts satiety and keeps you full for a longer time. So, you may feel energized after a protein-rich meal. The body also uses amino acids by breaking skeletal muscles when your calorie consumption is low.
It may also turn to protein as an energy source when you are fasting for prolonged periods. This benefit is also associated with a protein-rich diet and weight loss.
Growth And Tissue Maintainence
Protein is essential for the body to repair existing cells and make new ones. The needs also vary depending on factors like age and well-being.
Older adults, pregnant and breastfeeding women, children, and athletes need more protein for performing the same tasks under normal circumstances.
Usually, the body breaks a certain amount of protein to carry the development of muscles, increasing muscle mass and strength. A good protein intake may sustain physical activity for a longer time.
Protein is not just a key component for growth and development but also a booster for the recovery period. It carries the healing process into three phases, namely, inflammation, proliferation, and remodeling.
Protein named bradykinin rush to the bleeding site in case of cuts to start the healing process. It is followed up by the protein fibrin which ensures platelet reach to clot the blood and stop bleeding.
In the next phase, newly made collagen fibers made from protein pull the wound together. Later, more collagen deposit leads to scar formation. This scar acts as 80% functional tissue till it is replaced by a new fully functional tissue.
During wound healing, tissue regeneration takes place simultaneously. The body breaks, repairs, and makes new cells to replicate the old damaged tissue with help of protein. Once the tissue is ready, it replaces the old damaged tissue.
Some parts like skin, hair, and nails show rapid tissue regeneration whereas others like muscle cells and nerve cells do not. In the case of protein deficiency, both wound healing and tissue regeneration take a long time.
Formation Of Antibodies
Our body has an immune system designed to fight bacteria or harmful microbes entering the body. It produces antibodies to strengthen immunity and protect from foreign substances.
These antibodies are protective proteins that surround the harmful microbe and destroy it. It is very helpful as once the body recognizes a particular bacteria or virus, it would make antibodies.
Moreover, the body never forgets that particular microbe and how to make antibodies to kill it. Thus, the next time the same microbe enters the body, it readily reacts to produce antibodies.
So, there are fewer chances you fall prey to the same foreign substance again and your immunity is strengthened in the process.
Transporting NutrientsProteins linked with transportation and storage is specific regarding the nutrient they store and transport. Protein, in general, transports cholesterol, vitamins, minerals, and oxygen.
The transporting protein are
It is the most widely known protein for its function of transporting oxygen from the lungs to other parts of the body.
The glucose transporter, as the name suggests, transports only glucose to cells for energy purposes.
These proteins specifically deal with the transportation of cholesterol and other fats.
Storage Proteins are
This protein is crucial for storing iron.
It is a protein present in mammal milk and stores Amino acids. Casein is very vital for embryonic growth i.e muscle support and growth.
The most abundantly synthesized protein in progesterone or estrogen is ovalbumin. It is an important aspect of studying the control of gene expression.
Fluid balance refers to water distribution in the body. Proteins regulate it such that the concentration of water is balanced both inside and outside the cell.
Two essential proteins for fluid balance are albumin and globulin. They regulate the fluid retention and attract fluid. Thus, fluid moves from a higher concentration to a lower concentration.
If you are protein deficient, it may disrupt the balance. These proteins may fail to regulate blood flow in blood vessels and extra fluid might enter cellular space.
This may lead to long-term problems like edema and long-term protein malnutrition may cause kwashiorkor disease.
Similarly, transport protein ensures that electrolytes like sodium and potassium are balanced inside and outside the cell.
Protein also plays a role in hormone synthesis. Not all proteins are made from hormones but a few of them are. Hormones work like chemical messengers released in response to an activity or for a specific function.
They are synthesized at a particular part and then transported through the blood to the rest of the body parts. Once it reaches its target, it conveys a message.
The role of protein is to control the enzymes and other proteins also. Some protein-peptide hormones are
This hormone is released by the brain in the dark and its function is to regulate the 24-hour internal cycle.
Thyroid Stimulating Hormone
It regulates the production of thyroid hormones.
Increase the blood glucose levels by signaling the breakdown of glucose.
This hormone is released in response to blood sugar levels. Lack of the hormone may cause diabetes.
It is another protein-based hormone related to bone and overall body growth.
Signals kidney to reabsorb water.
Our body functions within an optimal pH range of 7.35 to 7.45. The range of pH is from 0 i.e. highly acidic to 14 i.e. highly basic. The human body is slightly inclined towards the basic pH.
Even minimal fluctuations might be a serious threat to human health. If the blood becomes acidic, it is called acidosis which means too much hydrogen ion concentration.
If it becomes basic, the condition is called alkalosis which means a deficit of hydrogen ions. Low levels of hydrogen ions may lead to the denaturation of protein i.e losing shape and stopping functioning. It may also lead to serious threats like coma or death.
Similarly, alkali blood may lead to sickness or even seizures and coma. Protein comes in handy in such cases. It acts as a buffer in the body for pH balance.
It releases hydrogen ions if the blood is too basic and accepts hydrogen ions if the blood is too acidic.
Provides StructureThe structure and rigidity of cells come from protein. Some of them are fibrous and provide stiffness to cells. Collagen, keratin, and elastin work together to build a connective framework for structural purposes.
Keratin provides structure to hair, nails, and skin. That is why keratin treatment is used in salons for treating damaged hair. Collagen provides structure to tendons, bones, skin, and ligaments.
Elastin provides structural elasticity to tissues. Uterus, lungs, and arteries could expand and return to their original shape due to elastin.
May Help In Chemical Reactions
Protein aids in carrying out chemical reactions in the body by functioning as enzymes/ catalysts. It makes the reaction easy by providing a reaction site and reducing the reaction time.
Enzymes are also specific for a particular reaction. There are thousands of enzymes used by the liver. Other body parts like the stomach, intestines, and molecule synthesis require enzymes.
Even protein synthesis itself requires adequate enzymes. These are destroyed and rebuilt during a chemical reaction.
Protein is vital for our body. It assists in various functions like chemical reactions, hormone production, growth, and repair.
Directly or indirectly, it is vital for the whole body. A majority of functions get disrupted in case of protein deficiency. These problems also have additional associated risks.
So, it is best to eat a protein diet with balanced carbs and fats, along with other essential nutrients to avoid inconvenience.