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Is protein an important part of my diet?

Proteins are composed of molecules called amino acids, which, when joined in different combinations, make up most of the tissues in our bodies: muscles, organs, skin, nails, and hair, for example. They also make up many of the biochemicals, like enzymes and hormones, which help our bodies grow, heal, digest, and detoxify. There are twenty-three amino acids in the human body, nine of which are essential. Animal sources of protein - such as eggs, dairy products, and meat - contain all nine essential amino acids. Plant sources of proteins - such as beans, nuts, and seeds - lack some of the essential amino acids.

Individual needs for protein can vary greatly depending on age, activity level, genetics, or chronic/acute illness. Those of us who do not meet our bodies' need for protein through our diet can experience symptoms of protein deficiency, which include: weakness, poor muscle tone, fatigue, dry and brittle hair and nails, slow wound healing, weakened immune system, blood sugar imbalances, and even depression.

Our Bodies, Ourselves: A New Edition for a New Era

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Our Bodies, Ourselves: A New Edition for a New Era

America's best-selling book on all aspects of women's health With more than four million copies sold, "Our Bodies, Ourselves" is "the" classic resource that women of all ages can turn to for...

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.