What is Protein, Types, Functions and Side Effects of Protein

Nuelson Penuel Sunday, September 17, 2023 Health


What is Protein?

Protein is a vital macronutrient that is necessary for various physiological functions in the human body. It is essential for the growth, repair, and maintenance of body tissues, including muscles, bones, skin, hair, and nails. Proteins are made up of amino acids, which are the building blocks of proteins. There are 20 different types of amino acids that combine in various ways to form different types of proteins that perform many different functions.

Types of Protein

There are several types of protein that play different roles in the body. Here are some of the most common types of proteins: 1. Enzymes: Enzymes are proteins that catalyze chemical reactions in the body. They are responsible for breaking down complex molecules into smaller components or building complex molecules from simpler ones. 2. Structural Proteins: Structural proteins provide support and shape to the body. Examples include collagen, which provides strength to tissues such as skin and bone, and keratin, which gives strength to hair and nails. 3. Contractile Proteins: Contractile proteins, such as actin and myosin, are responsible for muscle contraction and movement. 4. Transport Proteins: Transport proteins, such as hemoglobin, transport molecules such as oxygen and nutrients through the bloodstream to different parts of the body. 5. Hormones: Hormones are proteins that act as chemical messengers to regulate various bodily functions, including growth, metabolism, and reproduction. Examples include insulin, which regulates blood sugar levels, and leptin, which regulates appetite. 6. Antibodies: Antibodies are proteins produced by the immune system to identify and neutralize foreign invaders such as bacteria and viruses. 7. Storage Proteins: Storage proteins, such as ferritin, store essential molecules such as iron and release them when needed by the body. 8. Regulatory Proteins: Regulatory proteins, such as transcription factors, regulate gene expression and control various cellular processes.

Sources of Protein

In terms of dietary intake, protein can be obtained from a variety of food sources, including meat, poultry, fish, eggs, dairy products, legumes, nuts, and seeds.

Functions of Protein in Humans Body

Proteins serve a variety of functions in the human body, including:

1. Building and Repairing Tissues:

Protein is an essential component in the growth and repair of body tissues. When we consume protein, the body breaks it down into amino acids which can be used by the body to build new tissue, repair damaged tissues, and maintain existing tissues.

2. Enzymes:

Proteins act as enzymes that catalyze chemical reactions in the body. Enzymes are proteins that speed up chemical reactions in the body, allowing metabolic processes to occur more efficiently.

3. Hormones:

Proteins play a critical role in the regulation of hormones. Hormones are chemical messengers that regulate various bodily functions.

4. Transport and Storage:

Proteins are responsible for transporting and storing important molecules in the body, such as oxygen and iron.

5. Immunity:

Proteins play an essential role in the body's immune system. The immune system produces antibodies, which are specialized proteins that recognize and neutralize foreign invaders such as bacteria and viruses.

Side Effects of Protein

While protein is essential for a healthy diet, consuming too much protein can lead to side effects. Here are some of the most common side effects of protein: 1. Dehydration: High protein consumption can lead to dehydration, especially if you don't drink enough water to balance the increased protein intake. 2. Kidney damage: If you have pre-existing kidney problems or consume excessive amounts of protein, it can cause damage to your kidneys. 3. Digestive issues: Consuming too much protein can lead to digestive problems such as constipation, nausea, and diarrhea. 4. Weight gain: Eating too much protein, especially from high-fat sources like red meat, can lead to weight gain if you’re exceeding your daily calorie intake. 5. Bad breath: A high protein diet can cause bad breath due to an increase in the production of bacteria in the mouth and stomach. 6. Increased risk of heart disease: Consuming excessive amounts of protein, particularly from animal sources, can increase your intake of saturated fat and cholesterol, which can increase your risk of heart disease. 7. Nutrient deficiency: Consuming too much protein can lead to nutrient deficiencies, as it may replace other necessary nutrients in the diet.

Recommendations for Protein Consumption

The recommended daily intake of protein varies depending on an individual's age, sex, weight, and activity level. Generally, it is recommended that adults consume 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day. However, athletes, pregnant and nursing mothers may require more protein. Consuming adequate amounts of protein is necessary for maintaining optimal health and preventing protein deficiency, which can lead to serious health issues such as muscle wasting, weakness, and other health complications.


In conclusion, protein is an essential nutrient that plays a vital role in building and repairing muscles, bones, and other tissues in the body. However, consuming too much protein can lead to several side effects, including dehydration, kidney damage, digestive issues, bad breath, weight gain, increased risk of heart disease, and nutrient deficiencies. To avoid these side effects, it's important to consume a balanced diet with moderate protein intake and to consult with a healthcare provider or registered dietitian for guidance on your individual needs.

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