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The US RDA for protein is .8 grams for every 2.2 lbs of body weight.

Protein Makes Up Your Body's Structure

Protein is an essential component of the diet and helps your body repair muscle, grow tissue, regulate hormones, control metabolism, defend against illness, and more.

Protein is what makes up your ligaments, tendons, muscles, hair, nails, skin, teeth, tissue, organs, and bones. About half of the non-water mass of your body is made up of protein.

Since most of the body's proteins are continually broken down, the body needs to manufacture thousands of proteins every day to replace them.

The more active you are the faster your proteins break down, and more protein you need to replenish them.

Individuals typically need 1 gram of protein daily for each kilogram of their body weight. For example, a 180-pound man would need at least 80 grams of protein a day to meet his body's needs; a 140-pound woman would need a minimum of 60 grams.

Protein cannot be stored for later use, like fat or carbohydrates can, so the body needs daily replenishments.

Proteins Are Made Up of Amino Acids

Just what is protein? Protein consists of smaller units of amino acids. These amino acids, formed of carbon, nitrogen, hydrogen, and oxygen atoms, are literally the building blocks of the human body. From these amino acids, your body can make hundreds of different proteins that perform different functions.

On its own, the body can manufacture 14 of the 22 amino acids it needs. But the other 8 cannot be made by the body and must be obtained from the diet. These eight amino acids are called "essential amino acids" and include:

* Isoleucine
* Leucine
* Lysine
* Methionine
* Phenylalanine
* Threonine
* Tryptophan
* Valine

The body uses the amino acids obtained from dietary protein or amino acid supplements to build the body's proteins, which become the structural foundation of the body and the molecules that sustain life.

Protein Digestion Releases Nitrogen Waste

Amino acids not synthesized into protein become converted to calories or energy. However, converting protein to calories or energy requires your body to strip the amino acids of their nitrogen atoms, creating nitrogen waste.

This nitrogen waste from the metabolized protein arrives at your kidneys as a toxic "urea," and must be filtered out.

For example, a hen egg, the highest protein food, makes only 48 percent of its protein available to the body. The rest of the egg converts to calories and produces nitrogen waste in the process.

For individuals with reduced kidney function, the amount of nitrogen waste produced from protein digestion can actually harm their kidneys.

According to the National Kidney Foundation, 20 million people have reduced kidney function and don't even know it. Not only does the toxic nitrogen waste considerably strain kidneys, but in high amounts can cause weak kidneys to further decline.

Therefore, to maintain optimum health and fitness, you must include enough dietary protein to keep up with losses. Since the diet alone often does not accomplish this, supplementing with an optimum protein source is recommended.

Inadequate Protein Intake Damages Your Body

Daily protein/amino acid intake is required to maintain or normalize cellular turnover and optimize the body's protein synthesis. Without sufficient protein, the body either lets cells die or breaks down other muscles and tissues to get the protein it needs for repair and other functions.

The body may actually "eat itself" to acquire the necessary amino acids, or borrow the amino acids from the immune system or body functions to meet its protein needs. If you workout and don't have enough protein to rebuild your body, instead of getting stronger, you will become weaker and be subject to injury.

Whether due to restricted diets, illness, skipping meals, poor diet choices, and so on, inadequate protein/amino acid intake can compromise your health and affect the following body functions:

* Bone cell synthesis
* Red blood cell production
* Heart cell turnover rate
* Neurotransmitters/mood
* Sense of well-being/stamina
* Immune function/antibodies
* Enzymes/hormones
* Skin elasticity/muscle tone
* Organ function/pH balance
* Mobility/joint integrity

Many people are unknowingly protein deficient. Protein levels may actually be normal in standard blood panels, but in deeper tests of the serum, many individuals have deficient amino acid levels. Even marginal deficiencies can magnify the effect of every disease.

Most of the Protein We Eat Is Burned as Calories

Although you get much protein through your daily diet, the body cannot, unfortunately, digest and use all of it.

A nutritional label may indicate 10 grams of protein in a food, but your body won't assimilate all 10 grams. Most likely you'll assimilate only 10-20% and convert the rest to calories.

Why? Because in order for protein synthesis to take place, all 8 of the essential amino acids must be present. All 8 must be at the cell at the same time; otherwise protein cannot be made.

Protein cannot be stored, so these essential amino acids must either be in place or the body will burn the protein as energy, or store it as fat.

Another factor determining the amount of protein synthesis that takes place is the proportion and ratio of these amino acids. For each creature in the animal kingdom, the proportion and ratio for maximum protein synthesis varies.
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