Protein Requirement for Us

For adults the recommended daily protein requirement (recommended dietary allowance or RDA) is 0.6 gram per kilo of body weight per day, provided protein is of high quality (high biologic value) and other energy providing food (fats and carbohydrates) intake is adequate. According to present recommendation a healthy diet should provide 10-14% of energy requirement from proteins. Quality of protein or biologic value of protein is considered high or complete if protein contains all the nine (9) essential amino acids in adequate quantity. As a rule biologic value of quality of protein is highest (contain all essential amino acids in adequate quantity) in animal proteins followed by legumes (beans), cereals (rice, wheat, corn), and roots. Pure vegetarians can take protein from two or more sources, as they can complement one another in biologic value (i.e. if a plant protein is deficient in one essential amino acid another plant protein will supply it and vice versa) and improve the quality of protein. Combination of animal and plant protein can also improve biologic value.

Dietary protein consists of amino acids, essential amino acids as well as non essential amino acids. The nine essential amino acids (dietary intake of which is must for survival as they are required for protein synthesis, but humans can not synthesize them and need exogenous supply) are histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine/cystine, phenylalanine/tyrosine, threonine, tryptophan, and valine. All amino acids (including essential amino acids) can be used for energy and amino acids such as alanine (a non essential amino acid) are used for synthesis of glucose (gluconeogenesis) if required. During deficient energy intake protein intake must be increased otherwise ingested protein will be used up for glucose synthesis and oxidation and protein-energy malnutrition may ensue.

What are the conditions which increase protein requirement?

The increase intake of protein is required during pregnancy and lactation, growth and development and during rehabilitation after malnutrition.

What conditions reduce protein requirement?

During renal disease (insufficiency), liver disease such as cirrhosis of liver a person can not tolerate normal protein intake and intake of protein must be reduced.

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