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Articles     |  5 July 2021

The Importance Of Protein Throughout Life


Throughout our lifetime our bodies change, and along with so does our nutritional needs. There are other factors that may influence what our bodies need such as lifestyles, such as those who are highly active or sedentary. One factor that does not change is the importance of enjoying a healthy balanced diet, of which protein is needed at all stages of life. Let us take a look at why protein is important across your lifetime:


As an adult you may look at your children and feel as though they have grown and changed in so many ways in just a blink of an eye! During this period a child’s diet plays a significant role in growth and development. Protein intake is particularly important as it provides essential amino acids required for protein synthesis, which are needed for healthy growth. Some areas of the body that need protein for development and building are bone structure, muscle and brain development. Protein is also important for rest and recovery of tissues in the muscles, skin, organs, blood, hair and nails.


Teens have a lot going on, luckily protein is a hardworking nutrient which can support teens throughout this period of rapid development and change. Protein, in addition to the above, is required as part of the production of enzymes and hormones, which are especially important for teens. It is important to remind teens that a healthy balanced dietary intake is needed, and not to cut out any foods or choose extreme diets, in the case of protein intake if we do not consume enough our body starts to take protein from our muscle, which may lead to muscle loss, fatigue and weakness. Generally male teenagers need slightly higher intakes of protein than females.

Pregnant Women

Protein is essential for foetal development and for women during this time your nutritional needs increase, many foods are safe to consume to obtain adequate protein levels during pregnancy including milk, cooked chicken breast and fish, peanut butter, hard boiled eggs and lentils. Protein is important during pregnancy through being the building blocks of amino acids, which are used to develop the cells, tissues, muscle and organs of your baby. For mum protein is important in assisting the transportation of blood around the body and to baby, which dramatically increases during pregnancy, so by the time baby is born mum’s red blood cell mass has increased around 20 -30%.


As an adult our body needs to keep up with our lifestyles, and protein may be able to help support you. Meals with quality protein may help you feel fuller for longer and provide your body with the right fuel it needs to make it through the day. Protein may also help with recovery after surgery or injury, and also help maintaining healthy skin and hair. If you are trying to get active or already active protein will help support your muscles through the wear and tear.


As we age we generally eat less foods, there are many factors as to why, such as changes to smell and taste, living alone or with fewer people, difficultly eating due to teeth or gum issues or the hurdles of cooking. However eating less means that older adults are usually missing out on key nutrients, when some nutritional needs are higher. As mentioned previously protein plays an important role in muscle mass, which generally decreases as we age, so higher levels are usually recommended to maintain healthy muscles and strength. For seniors protein also plays an important role in rest and recovery from illness, which can be more severe during this period of life. For those who need to increase intakes during this time options such as milk, eggs, cottage cheese and yoghurts are affordable, delicious and easy to chew.  


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