What Are Proteins? What Do They Do?

Giving a face to the buzzword

Photo by Jose Soriano on Unsplash

I believe that having a solid understanding of the nuts and bolts of your food will help you navigate conflicting nutritional advice — and make you a smarter consumer of health products.

What Is a Protein?

Haemoglobin 3D representation

- The human body uses about ~19,000 different proteins. Each cell and organ type uses a defined subset of them in a unique ‘cocktail’.

- Many plants use a larger set of proteins than humans! Corn has about 32,000 different proteins.

- There are two ‘bonus’ (rare) proteinogenic amino acids: selenocysteine, found in a few human and other proteins, and L-Pyrrolysine (non-humans only).

Understanding Amino Acids

Why Does My Body Need Protein?

Vitruvian Man

- About 15–20% of the dry weight of your body is made from proteins.

- About half of the weight of most cells is made up of proteins.

- Collagen is the most abundant protein in your body (by weight).

- Other abundant proteins include hemoglobin (blood), myosin (muscles) and actin (all cells).



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Chana Davis, PhD

Scientist (PhD Genetics @Stanford) * Mother * Passionate about science-based healthy choices * Lifelong learner * Founder: Fueled by Science