The stuff of life

Radhika Joshi

Proteins, Proteins, Proteins – why are proteins so important? Why is such importance given to the intake of proteins by human beings?

Proteins are made of amino acids, critical to life. Human beings can make only some of the amino acids; therefore, the human body has to absorb other amino acids through food. And proteins are an important source. These proteins are broken down into their constituent amino acids and then reassembled into the different proteins needed by the body.

Proteins are very complex, and a variety of them exist, and yet each protein is unique and specific to a particular function and organism. Proteins make up about 15% of the mass of the average person.

Haemoglobin-molecule

Enzymes are proteins that catalyze and regulate every function in our body – be it digestion, production of energy for our various activities, growth and repair of injury, or the building of bones, muscles, cartilage, ligaments, skin and hair; yet others are indispensable oxygen carriers in blood – haemoglobin; there are proteins (antibodies) that help our body fight against infection. All these and, not to forget, some hormones (insulin) that control our vital activities – are some examples of proteins that make life possible.

Dr. Radhika Joshi is a faculty member in Rishi Valley School, Madanapalle. She has worked as research associate in various labs such as University of Hyderabad, VMSRF and IISC, Bangalore. She can be reached at [email protected].

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