The ‘building blocks’ of protein are amino acids made from carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen and occasionally sulphur. Each protein is composed of a chain of amino acids with a specific number and sequence of amino acids. There are twenty amino acids which are either called essential (as they cannot be made in the body and must be consumed from the diet), or non-essential (so they are synthesised in the body). The body does not store amino acids so a daily supply is required from diet.
The Recommended Daily Intake for protein should equate to 11-15% of the total energy consumed in diet. In reality the average New Zealand adult is consuming between 15-16% of their total energy as protein.
RDI Women 19+yrs= 45 g protein per day
RDI Men 19+years = 55 g protein per day
One gram of protein provides 17 kJ or 4 calories of energy. The amount of protein required in the diet changes during a person’s life due to the different periods of growth and repair that each person experiences.