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Protein provides the nutrients for muscles, organs, the skin, hair and nails. Enzymes and hormones also consist of protein. Our body's defences only function to the best of their ability with protein. For this reason we must ensure we have a sufficient supply. This also applies to children. Our body needs an especially large number of nutrients for growth and for increasing muscle.
Milk, meat, fish and eggs are the most important sources of protein. Plant foods such as grains, potatoes and pulses also contain protein. Animal and plant combinations of protein are particularly good for you. Good combinations include muesli with yoghurt or milk, wholegrain bread with cheese, and potatoes with eggs.
Our digestive system must first of all break down protein from food into its component parts - amino acids, of which there are 20 different kinds. Amino acids travel via the blood to precisely where our body needs them. When they reach their destination, they are used very specifically to create a protein that the body needs. If one part of the protein is missing, the body must obtain some by taking protein from another location, or, for example, resorting to using valuable muscle protein. Tip: eat a varied diet so your body can always obtain the appropriate amino acids.
Adults require approximately 0.8 g of protein per kilo of bodyweight every day. If you weigh 60 kg, then a daily protein intake of approximately 48 g is sufficient.
As children are growing, they need - based on their body weight - more protein than adults. As long as they regularly eat small portions of meat or fish, drink milk and now and again eat muesli, yoghurt or cheese, their needs will be covered. But what if your child doesn't like milk or even cheese? Try mashed potato for lunch or, in between meals, semolina pudding with raspberries - you can conceal a lot of milk in these.
Too much protein can have its disadvantages. Animal protein also contains some undesirable substances such as cholesterol, purine and saturated fatty acids, which can damage health in the long term.