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Nutrition: Proteins

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This Unit studies 'proteins'. Starting with a simple analysis of the molecular make up, the Unit moves on to look at the importance of protein and how they are digested and absorbed

After studying this unit you should know:

  • that the human body, and everything else, is made up of atoms and that there are about 26 different sorts of atom in the human body, combined into numerous different sorts of molecules.
  • that amino acids contain carbon, nitrogen, oxygen and hydrogen atoms, some contain an atom of sulphur and that there are about 20 different amino acids, with different side-chains (R groups).
  • Amino acids are linked via peptide bonds to make polypeptides and proteins.
  • that each protein molecule can be hundreds of amino acids long and the amino acids must be joined in a precise order, which is specified by a code in the DNA in the chromosomes.
  • the side-chains (R groups) of the amino acids can interact with one another to fold the protein into a particular shape which is essential for the protein to function correctly.
  • when protein food is eaten, the amino acids are released by the activity of peptidase enzymes during digestion. The amino acids are then absorbed into the blood and used to build up the body’s own proteins.
  • the amount of protein needed in a balanced diet differs according to age and gender. Insufficient or excess protein in the diet can cause health problems.

By: The Open University

  • Duration 8 hours
  • Updated Monday 17th March 2014
  • Introductory level
  • Posted under Biology
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Nutrition: Proteins


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This unit studies 'proteins'. Starting with a simple analysis of their molecular make up, the unit moves on to look at the importance of proteins and how they are digested and absorbed.

This free course is an adapted extract from the Open University course SK183Studying Human Nutrition, which is no longer taught by the University. If you want to study formally with us, you may wish to explore other courses we offer in this subject area. [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)]

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