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Articles     |  23 February 2021

Why is protein so important?

Carbohydrates, fats and proteins are the golden trio when it comes to our foods, ensuring you have high quality and a balanced intake of each helps us stay healthy. Each of these macronutrients has a key role it plays in our daily health, so let’s take a closer look at why protein is important for our health.

Structure of Proteins

To begin with the structure of proteins in our body is important to understand, protein is often described as the building blocks of life, with every cell in our body containing protein. The basic structure of protein is made up of a chain of amino acids. There are twenty common amino acids that make up most proteins. Within this there are two groups of amino acids, known as essential and non-essential. Essential amino acids cannot be made by the body and most be obtained from our diets. Non-essential are those that can be made within our bodies, below is a list of these amino acids.


Non - Essential








Aspartic Acid




Glutamic Acid









Some proteins have a very short life span in our bodies, some only lasting a few hours, we are constantly breaking them down in our bodies and replacing them. So, ensuring we have a continual intake of them is key to ensuring this remains in balance.

Function of Proteins

Proteins make up a large part of our bodies machinery, with some of the major functions proteins participate in being:

  • Enabling muscle contraction and movement;
  • Function as antibodies with removing foreign proteins, viruses and bacteria;
  • A key part of cell membranes;
  • They function as enzymes, which carry out almost all of the thousands of chemical reactions that take place in our cells. They also assist with the formation of new molecules by reading the genetic information stored in DNA;
  • Special proteins in the blood help carry oxygen, iron from the gut to bone marrow and control water pressure in cells;
  • Help your body repair cells and make new ones;
  • Protein is also important for growth and development in children, teens, and pregnant women.

While the above isn’t an exhaustive list of everything proteins do in our bodies, it is pretty impressive the work they do!

Sources of Protein

Getting a good daily source of protein is important so our bodies can carry out all this amazing and critical work. With protein it is important to remember the quality of your protein source is also key. A food that contains protein of a high nutritional quality is one that contains the essential amino acids, as our bodies will absorb these better. Studies have shown us whole eggs and human milk provide us with the highest nutritional quality of protein. Other great sources include:

  • Cow’s milk
  • Lean beef, lamb and chicken
  • Cheese
  • Soy Beans and soy milk
  • Bread
  • Peas & Beans

When looking at your protein intake try to take a look at the quality of the protein, as this will have an important impact on your dietary intake rather than just quantity of protein alone.