The need for protein

Unlike fats and carbohydrates, there is a requirement for protein in the diet. In a growing child this need is obvious. As the child grows, and the size of its body increases, so there is an increase in the total amount of protein in the body.

Adults also require protein in the diet. There is a continuous small loss of protein from the body, for example in hair, shed skin cells, enzymes and other proteins secreted into the gut and not completely digested. More importantly, there is turnover of tissue proteins, which are continually being broken down and replaced. Although there is no change in the total amount of protein in the body, an adult with an inadequate intake of protein will be unable to replace this loss, and will lose tissue protein. Protein turnover and requirements are discussed in Chapter 9.

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