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Proteins: Types, Functions, Deficiency Symptoms and Sources

Updated on April 18, 2017

Proteins Definition

Proteins are nutrients found in food. These nitrogenous organic compounds are large molecules. Proteins are made up of many amino acids. Gerardus Johannes Mulder, a Dutch chemist, was the first person to describe proteins. Protein got its name from Swedish chemist Jöns Jacob Berzelius in 1838.

Proteins play many vital roles in the body. After water, protein is the most abundant substance in the body.

Types of Proteins

  • Enzymatic proteins.
  • Antibodies.
  • Structural proteins.
  • Storage proteins.
  • Transport proteins.
  • Contractile proteins.
  • Hormonal proteins.
  • Receptor proteins.


An enzyme is a group of proteins that are made by cells. They act as catalysts in many biochemical reactions. In fact almost all biochemical reactions in the human body need enzymes.


An antibody is a Y-shaped blood protein that is produced by the immune system. Antibodies latch on to foreign substances like bacteria, thereby making them ineffective.

Structural protein

Structural proteins provide internal structure to cells. These large biomolecules are also involved in movement of cells.

Storage protein

Storage proteins are biological reserves of metal ions and amino acids. They are found especially in seeds.

Transport protein

Transport proteins perform the function of moving materials within the body. They bring in ions and other molecules into the cell.

Almonds are Rich in Proteins


A Protein's Function

Proteins prevent many harmful diseases by binding to dangerous foreign particles like bacteria and virus. They execute many chemical reactions in cells. They facilitate the formation of new molecules by reading the genetic information stored in DNA.


Proteins transmit signals in order to coordinate various biological processes between cells, tissues and different organs. They provide structure and support for cells. They also transport aroms and molecules within cells and all over the body. Protein also acts as a source of energy.

Symptoms of Protein Deficiency

Proteins are necessary for good health. According to USDA, men need 56 grams and women 46 grams of proteins per day. Here are some known symptoms of protein deficiency:

  • High cholesterol levels.
  • Insomnia.
  • Digestion problems.
  • Weak muscles.
  • Bone pain.
  • Slow healing of wounds.
  • Difficulty in losing weight.
  • Muscle pain.
  • Irregular menstrual cycle.
  • Fatigue.
  • Lack of concentration.
  • Changes in blood sugar that can cause diabetes.
  • Joint pain.
  • Anxiety.
  • Lethargy.
  • Low immunity.


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30 High-Protein Foods

Even though many protein supplements, including protein powder, protein tablets, protein bars, protein biscuits, etc, are available in the market, it is a good idea to get your proteins from the food you eat daily.

There are many proteins in food. If you are wondering how to enhance your protein intake, you can do so by including these foods in your diet:

  1. Navy beans.
  2. Wheat germ.
  3. Edamame.
  4. Swiss cheese.
  5. Tofu.
  6. Peanut butter.
  7. Anchovies.
  8. Greek yogurt.
  9. Mixed nuts.
  10. Soba noodles.
  11. Tilapia
  12. Bean chips.
  13. Cottage cheese.
  14. Sardines.
  15. Dried lentils.
  16. Whey protein.
  17. Quinoa.
  18. Green peas.
  19. Chorizo.
  20. Smoothie drinks.
  21. Roast beef.
  22. Halibut
  23. Milk.
  24. Octopus.
  25. Chicken breast.
  26. Canadian bacon.
  27. Yellowfin tuna.
  28. Light tuna.
  29. Pepperoni.
  30. Jerky.

Relationship Of Proteins With Other Nutrients

Increased protein intake can result in urinary loss of calcium. It is a natural physiological process. Protein reacts with some sugars to produce advanced glycosylation end-products (AGEs) and other compounds (including acrylamides).


  • Proteins are nitrogenous compounds.
  • Proteins are made up of amino acids.
  • Proteins prevent duseases.
  • Proteins provide structure to cells.
  • Women need 46 grams of protein daily.

5 Excellent Sources of Proteins for Vegans

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For a slim, sexy body, it's important to eat protein every day - preferably at every meal. Be sure to ask about the origins of your meat, poultry and seafood. If you can't afford organic, free-range meats, opt for natural poultry, pork, and beef that's raised without antibiotics or hormones.

— Suzanne Somers


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