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Protein supplies the building blocks for all the tissues and functions in your body. These building blocks, amino acids, are used to make new cells and all the enzymes and other chemicals your body requires to function. Your body uses 22 different amino acids, and nine of those must come from the food you eat. These are called the essential amino acids. Your body can make the remaining amino acids from the essential nine.



Most people need between 50 and 75 grams of protein a day.
Protein deficiency is virtually unheard of in North America, since any reasonably varied diet will give you plenty. Too much protein
can be a concern, so before you decide to follow a fad high-protein diet or take protein supplements, understand that your body cannot store excess protein. Any unused protein is burned for energy or stored as fat, and this process can stress the kidneys or liver and may pull calcium out of bones.


Meat, fish and dairy products are good sources of protein, since they contain all of the nine essential amino acids. However, meat and dairy products also contain a lot of saturated fat, so most people (except competitive athletes and very active young people) should choose skim milk products and limit or avoid meats. For everyone except strict vegetarians, we recommend 2-3 servings of seafood a week, and 2-3 servings of skim milk dairy products a day.
If you are lactose intolerant, you can use vegetarian milk substitutes.


Most plants contain some, but not all of the essential amino acids.
Strict vegetarians can get all the amino acids they need from whole grains and beans. The beans may contain only seven of the essential nine, but the grains will have the other two.You do not need to do special combinations at each meal to get
"complete protein"; just eat a variety of grains, beans and other vegetarian choices each week.

July 26th, 2013
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About the Author: Gabe Mirkin, MD

Sports medicine doctor, fitness guru and long-time radio host Gabe Mirkin, M.D., brings you news and tips for your healthful lifestyle. A practicing physician for more than 50 years and a radio talk show host for 25 years, Dr. Mirkin is a graduate of Harvard University and Baylor University College of Medicine. He is board-certified in four specialties: Sports Medicine, Allergy and Immunology, Pediatrics and Pediatric Immunology. The Dr. Mirkin Show, his call-in show on fitness and health, was syndicated in more than 120 cities. Read More
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