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Functions of Proteins in Humans

Proteins perform a wide variety of important functions in humans (Devlin, 1997, p. 24). These functions can be grouped into dynamic and structural. Dynamic functions include transport, metabolic control, contraction, and catalysis of chemical transformations. In their structural functions, proteins provide the matrix for bone and connective tissue, giving structure and form to the human organism. An athlete who is building muscle mass can have twice the protein intake requirement of the average person (Dolby, 1998). With American athletes, it is rare to find a protein lack since the average American already consumes two to three times the daily requirement for protein. This paper will look at the protein intake requirement of athletes, both male and female, for various types of exercise activities.

Proteins and their function: Protein accounts for about one fifth of a person's weight, or just under 30 pounds for a 150 pound person (Applegate, 1996). Protein is one of the body's most versatile constituents and is made up of chains of amino acids strung together. This gives each protein strand a unique structure that ultimately dictates its function in the body. Muscle proteins propel runners; immune system proteins fight off invading bacteria and viruses; red blood cell proteins carry oxygen. There are thousands of proteins in the body, each contributing in some way to the body's health.

In muscle, the proteins actin and myosin participate in contractile mechanisms, and the protein fibrin stops the loss of blood on injury to the vascular system (Devlin, 1997, p. 24), both important mechanisms for the athlete. The proteins collagen and elastin, which form the matrix of bone and ligaments, and provide structural strength and elasticity to organs and the vascular system, are also important to athletes.

For all this protein machinery to run properly, the body must manufacture millions of new proteins every day. For ...

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