Determination of the protein requirement must consider both the amount of amino acid N and its quality (i.e., its ability to be digested and absorbed and its essential amino acid content). The simplest approach to measuring the nutritional quality of a protein is to measure the ability of that protein to promote growth in young growing animals, such as rats. Their growth depends on synthesis of new protein, which depends on essential amino acid intake. Because alterations in rat growth can be measured in several days, the growing rat is often used to compare differences in quality (composition) of protein/amino acid diets. Because this approach cannot ethically be applied to humans, other approaches for assessing human requirements have been applied: the factorial method and the balance method.
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