What is it? What does it look like?
Proteins are large, complex molecules that play many critical roles in the body. They do most of the work in cells and are required for the structure, function, and regulation of the body’s tissues and organs.
What it looks like: The building blocks, or monomers, of proteins are called amino acids, and there are 20 naturally occurring amino acids which can be joined together by peptide bonds into a long chain. This chain can fold up into interesting shapes due to attractions between amino acids.
What does it do for your body?
Your body uses protein to build and repair tissues. You also use protein to make enzymes, hormones, and other body chemicals. Protein is an important building block of bones, muscles, cartilage, skin, and blood.
How is it used?
Proteins are also used in membranes, such as glycoproteins. When broken down into amino acids, they are used as precursors to nucleic acid, co-enzymes, hormones, immune response, cellular repair, and other molecules essential for life. Additionally, protein is needed to form blood cells.
Where does it come from? (externally and internally)
The first protein was discovered by a man named Linus Pauling in the 1950's. He discovered that protein is built from building blocks called amino acids. Our bodies make amino acids in two different ways: Either from scratch, or by modifying others. A few amino acids (known as the essential amino acids) must come from food. Animal sources of protein tend to deliver all the amino acids we need.