Proteins are macronutrients composed mainly of carbon, hydrogen, oxygen and nitrogen, Although some also contain sulfur and phosphorus. These elements studied by biology (and the sciences related to it) explain a large part of how our body works, both in terms of movement and, for example, in terms of our mind. However, proteins are found in all kinds of life, not just our species.
Plants synthesize proteins from inorganic nitrogen, but animals, unable to carry out this process, must incorporate these substances into their diet. Proteins are formed by the union of several amino acids, linked by peptide bonds.
As these biomolecules are so important in understanding what our body looks like, it is useful know some of the most common types of protein or relevant to us, as well as the amino acids that form them. In this article, you will find a brief explanation of these two elements, both amino acids and proteins. Let’s start with the first ones.
What are Amino Acids
As we have seen, amino acids are the basis or raw material of proteins. Basically, they’re the raw material from which our entire body is made: muscle, hair, bones, skin, and even the brain tissue that produces our thoughts, emotions, and consciousness.
Although in nature it is possible to find hundreds of amino acids, only 20 are used in the formation of proteins. They are named: protein amino acids.
The 20 types of protein amino acids
Protein amino acids, also called canonicals, alone perform physiological functions, as is the case with glycine or glutamate, which are neurotransmitters. Below are the 20 protein neurotransmitters:
1. Glutamic acid
This amino acid is considered the essence of the brain and one of its main functions is to absorb excess ammonia in the body.
The main task of this amino acid is that involved in glucose metabolisma.
It is present in the detoxification process of the body, In the urea cycle and in the synthesis of creatinine. In addition, it is involved in the production and release of growth hormone.
It is synthesized from aspartic acid, i removes excess ammonia from the body together with glutamine and is involved in improving fatigue resistance.
It is involved in the process of removing heavy metals from the body and is essential for hair growth and health.
Thanks to this amino acid it is possible to regulate the endorphins responsible for the feeling of well-being. It reduces excess appetite and helps soothe pain.
It helps the body to build muscle mass, In the correct healing, it prevents infectious diseases and participates in the proper functioning of the brain.
Glutamine is found in abundance in muscles. This amino acid increases brain function and mental activity and helps to solve impotence problems. In addition, it is essential to fight against alcohol problems.
This amino acid is the precursor of histamine. It is abundant in hemoglobin and is necessary for the production of red blood cells and white blood cells, moreover, it is involved in the process of growth, tissue repair and the formation of myelin sheaths.
this amino acid it is part of the genetic code and is necessary for our muscle tissue and hemoglobin formation. Plus, it helps regulate blood sugar.
Like the amino acid above, involved in the formation and repair of muscle tissue and helps in the healing of skin and bones. Outraged. it acts as energy in high-effort workouts and helps increase growth hormone production.
With methionine, synthesizes the amino acid carnitine and is important in the treatment of herpes.
It is important to prevent certain types of edema, High cholesterol and hair loss.
It is responsible for the synthesis of various brain neurotransmitters linked to temporary depression and also contributes to collagen synthesis.
It is an amino acid involved in fat metabolism and is a precursor of phospholipids which nourish the nervous system.
Taurine strengthens the heart muscle and prevents cardiac arrhythmias. Improves vision and prevents macular degeneration.
Tyrosine is distinguished by its function as a neurotransmitter and can help relieve anxiety or depression.
Necessary in the detoxification process and participates in the synthesis of collagen and elastin.
Tryptophan is an essential amino acid, which means that the body itself cannot synthesize it and must be obtained through food. It is a precursor of the neurotransmitter serotonin, associated with the state of mood. Tryptophan is considered a natural antidepressant and also promotes sleep. It is also a very healthy component and easy to find in a healthy diet.
- You can read more about this neurotransmitter in this article: “Tryptophan: characteristics and functions of this amino acid”
Like some of the amino acids above, it is important for the growth and repair of muscle tissue. In addition, it also participates in the regulation of appetite.
Essential and non-essential amino acids
Amino acids can be classified into essential and non-essential. The difference between these is that the former cannot be produced by the body and therefore must be ingested through food. The 9 essential amino acids are:
Not all foods high in protein contain the same amount of amino acids. The protein richest in amino acids is the egg.
Classification of proteins
Proteins can be classified in different ways. Below are the different types of protein.
1. According to its origin
One of the most well-known classifications is by origin: animal and vegetable proteins.
1.1. animal protein
Animal proteins are, as the name suggests, those that come from animals. For example, egg or pork protein.
1.2. vegetable proteins
Plant proteins are those that come from vegetables (legumes, wheat flour, nuts, etc.). For example, soy or peanut protein.
2. According to its function
According to its function in our body, Proteins can be classified into:
These proteins are secreted by the endocrine glands. Usually carried by the blood, hormones act as chemical messengers that transmit information from one cell to another.
You can read more about this type of peptide hormone in our article: “Types of hormones and their functions in the human body”.
2.2. Enzymatic or catalysts
These proteins speed up metabolic processes in cells including liver function, digestion or conversion of glycogen to glucose, etc.
2.3. Of construction
Structural proteins, also known as fibrous proteins, are necessary building blocks for our bodies. They include collagen, keratin, and elastin. Collagen is found in conjunctival, bone and cartilage tissue like elastin. Keratin is a structural part of the hair, nails, teeth, and skin.
These proteins have an immune function or an antibody, keeping bacteria at bay. Antibodies form in white blood cells and attack bacteria, viruses and other dangerous microorganisms.
2.5. storage room
Storage proteins store mineral ions such as potassium or iron. Its function is important because, for example, the storage of iron is vital to avoid the negative effects of this substance.
One of the functions of proteins is transport in our body, as they carry minerals to cells. Hemoglobin, for example, carries oxygen from tissues to the lungs.
These receptors are usually found outside of cells to control the substances that enter them. For example, GABAergic neurons contain different protein receptors on their membranes.
They are also known as motor proteins. These proteins regulate the strength and speed of the heart or muscle contractions. For example, myosin.
3. According to its conformation
Conformation is the three-dimensional orientation that characteristic groups of the protein molecule acquire in space, by virtue of the freedom to rotate.
3.1. Fibrous proteins
They are formed by polypeptide chains aligned in parallel. Examples are collagen and keratin. They have high cut resistance and are insoluble in water and salt solutions. These are the structural proteins.
3.2. Globular proteins
Polypeptide chains that roll on themselves, causing a spherical-like macrostructure. They are generally soluble in water and are generally transport proteins
4. According to its composition
Depending on their composition, proteins can be:
4.1. Holoproteins or simple proteins
They are made up mainly of amino acids.
4.2. Heteroproteins or conjugated proteins
They are usually composed of a non-amino acid component and can be:
- Glycoproteins: Structure with sugars
- lipoproteins: Lipid structure
- Nucleoproteins: Bound to a nucleic acid. For example, chromosomes and ribosomes.
- Metalloproteins: They contain in their molecule one or more metal ions. For example: certain enzymes.
- Hemoproteins He chromoproteins: They have a heme group in their structure. For example: hemoglobin.