Powerful Protein

In This Chapter

  • Determining what protein is ^ Finding the proteins in your body ^ Getting the best quality protein from food ^ Gauging how much protein you need
  • rotein is an essential nutrient whose name comes from the Greek word
  • protos, which means "first." To visualize a molecule of protein, close your eyes and see a very long chain, rather like a chain of sausage links. The links in the chains are amino acids, commonly known as the building blocks of protein. In addition to carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen atoms, amino acids contain a nitrogen (amino) group. The amino group is essential for synthesizing (assembling) specialized proteins in your body.

In this chapter, you can find out more — maybe even more than you ever wanted to know — about this molecule, how your body uses the proteins you take in as food, and how the body makes some special proteins you need for a healthy life.

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