What You Need to Know About Protein
Protein is a vital nutrient so it’s good to know why you need it and what the best sources of it are. These facts and tips will help you understand what protein does and how you can get enough of it without eating too unhealthily.
What Does Protein Do?
Protein plays a vital role in building, maintaining and repairing tissues, cells and organs throughout the body. When you eat it in food, it is broken down into the twenty amino acids which are the body’s basic building blocks for growth and energy.
Protein gives you the energy you need to get through the day, as well as keeping your body functioning properly. It helps your immune system, your heart health and your respiratory system. It also helps to keep your skin, hair and nails healthy.
What Are Good Sources of Protein?
Poultry, lean meat and fish are some of the best sources of protein. This means vegetarians must pay close attention to their protein intake and make sure they’re getting plenty of it elsewhere. Some good vegetarian sources include:
• Milk and dairy products
• Pulses such as beans, chickpeas and lentils
• Nuts and seeds such as almonds, peanuts and flaxseed
• Soy products such as tofu and miso
Just remember that while it’s important to get enough of the nutrient, not all sources are healthy and some shouldn’t be consumed in large amounts. Eat more fish and poultry than red meat, opt for low-fat dairy products over their high-fat counterparts, and eat your nuts unsalted. These tips will help you keep your fat and salt intake down.
How Much Protein Do You Need?
The recommended daily intake for healthy adults is:
• 45g for women under 50
• 55g for men under 50
• 46.5g for women over 50
• 53.3g for men over 50
Fortunately, it isn’t usually difficult to consume enough protein. If you eat a healthy, balanced diet you should be getting all you need. However, if you think your diet is lacking a lot of the foods mentioned above, it’s important that you look for sources of protein you can eat regularly. Getting too little can negatively impact various physiological functions.
Protein supplements are available for those who have trouble getting enough protein from their diet. However, it’s important to calculate your dosage carefully based on how much of the nutrient you do get from food. Some protein supplements may not be safe for older individuals so make sure you discuss supplements with your doctor before using them.