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Protein is one of the macronutrients and the main sources of protein in meats come from poultry, fish, meat, offal, cheese, milk eggs and yoghurts. Non-meat products with high protein levels are nuts, pulses such as bean, peas and lentils. The word protein comes from the Greek word “protos” which means “first”. Your body uses proteins to build new cells, maintain the bodies tissues, and to make new proteins to perform basic body functions.

Protein is made up of amino acids and amino acids are made of nitrogen, carbon, hydrogen and oxygen. Some also contain Sulphur or phosphorus. Proteins are made of chains of amino acids and these are the building blocks from which proteins are made. The cells in your intestines cannot absorb whole proteins so they break them down into amino acids so they can safely be transported to different parts of the body.

The human body contains about 15% of protein for a person weighing about 70kg. About 43% of the proteins are found in muscles, 21% in the skin, 19% in the blood and 5% in the liver. Protein is also found in other areas of the body in smaller amounts. Proteins are the main components in hormones and enzymes such as the digestive enzymes and part of the immune system responsible for fighting infections.

We need a daily intake of proteins and in general adult males aged 19-50 years old need about 55 grams a day dropping to 53 grams for the over 50’s. Women from 19-50 years old it is lower at 45 grams a day and over 50 the daily amount is 46 grams. During pregnancy, this increases by 6 grams to 11 grams later in the pregnancy.

The general recommendation is 0.75 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight but this can increase in some cases like someone who is recovering from an injury or very active people where it can be as high as 1.4 gram per kilogram.