Difference Between Amino Acid and Protein

The word protein comes from a Greek word that means ‘of primary importance’. Indeed proteins are vital to our existence as our hair, nails, skin, blood, enzymes and even hormones are made up of proteins. There are more than tens of thousands types of proteins in our bodies. We require a daily dose of sufficient amounts and types of proteins to sustain life. Proteins are organic compounds containing carbon, hydrogen, oxygen and even nitrogen. To talk of differences between amino acid and protein is like asking of difference between carbon and coal, which is what it is made up of. Yes, amino acids are the basic building block of all proteins, and to make up a protein, amino acids combine together as long chains through peptide linkages.

There are some 23 amino acids out of which 9 are termed as essential as body cannot make them on it’s own, and hence we must eat products that contain these amino acids. Amino acids have a structure similar to –CH(NH2)COOH. In this structure, nitrogen and two hydrogen atoms make up the amino group while the acid content comes from the carboxyl group (COOH). Many amino acids combine together to make up a protein just like many bricks combine together to make a wall.

When two amino acids combine together, a peptide link is formed. Several amino acids combine together to make up a polypeptide. Now many polypeptides join together to make up a protein. This is how a protein is finally formed. With 23 amino acids it is millions of combinations that can be formed which is why there are thousands of proteins inside our bodies.

Protein is one of the three macro nutrients that are vital for our health and well being. All three are required in a balanced ratio by our bodies. Proteins are necessary for the growth and development of bones during developmental years, during pregnancy, and later to provide nourishment to bones and teeth. In fact, the entire functioning system of human body is made up of proteins in the form of enzymes and hormones. Deficiency of proteins can lead to many ailments.

Some good natural sources of proteins are meat, eggs, milk, other dairy products apart from pulses and fruits and vegetables.


• Proteins are one of the three macronutrients that are essential for human beings, and these proteins are made up of amino acids.

• The type of protein made up by a particular group of amino acids is dependent upon the acid present in these amino acids.

• Several amino acids join together to make up a protein