General English


  • Long chains of amino acids which arrange themselves in many different shapes, some for use as muscle fibres, others to act as structural building blocks of body tissue and others as the enzymes which mediate most body processes. Of the 20 amino acids required 8 (9 in the case of infants) cannot be synthesized by the body and must be supplied in the diet. These are known as essential amino acids. Proteins in food are broken down into amino acids in the gut, these are absorbed into the blood and reassembled as required or burnt to provide energy.


  • noun a nitrogen compound which is present in and is an essential part of all living cells in the body, formed by the linking of amino acids


  • noun a compound that is an essential part of living cells and is one of the elements in food that is necessary to keep the human body working properly

Origin & History of “protein”

The word protein was coined (as French protéine) by the Dutch chemist Mulder in the late 1830s. He based it on late Greek prōteios ‘primary’, a derivative of Greek prṓtos ‘first’ (see (protozoa)), the notion being that proteins were substances of ‘primary’ importance to the proper functioning of the body.