Amino Acid vs Protein: Difference and Comparison

There are several important components in the body of both animals and humans that are needed for the proper and overall development of the body. Among these are amino acids and proteins. Both of them are found in humans and animals.

There is confusion about why they are needed in the body, but not many are aware of how they are produced. Both of them are similar in several ways, but this does not make the same.

There are several differences between both that are mentioned below to have a better understanding of them.

Key Takeaways

  1. Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins, while proteins are chains of amino acids.
  2. Amino acids have various functions in the body, such as building muscle and regulating metabolism, while proteins have many functions, including serving as enzymes, hormones, and antibodies.
  3. There are 20 different amino acids, while countless types of proteins have different structures and functions.

Amino Acid vs Protein

Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins, comprising of a central carbon atom, a hydrogen atom, an amino group, a carboxyl group, and a variable R group. A protein is a complex, high-molecular-weight organic compound that consists of amino acids joined by peptide bonds, playing crucial roles in the body.

Amino Acid vs Protein
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Compounds responsible for the synthesis of proteins are called Amino Acids. All of the amino acids are required by the body, and therefore not all of them are synthesized inside the body.

Their main function is only to make protein. They are micro-molecular. They are types of amino acids categorized as essential and non-essential.

Protein is one of the nutrients required by the body for proper functioning. They can be synthesized in our bodies. They are macromolecular. They perform more than one function in the body.

Proteins are of different types, categorized as complete and incomplete proteins. All of them are essential for the body; therefore, if any of them is not fully synthesized in the body, they are consumed in the form of food.

Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonAmino AcidProtein
MeaningBuilding blocks of proteinThe String of amino acids
Synthesize in bodySome can be synthesizedAll can be synthesized
Molecular massSmallerHigher
FunctionsResponsible for protein synthesisProper growth and functioning of the body.
EssentialNot all are essentialAll proteins are essential

What is Amino Acid?

Amino acids impact the physical strength of a person. There are types of essential amino acids that include the following:

  1. Lysine: This is required for building muscles, increasing bone strength, making the immune system strong to heal the body after injury, and having antiviral effects. There is no hard evidence of what major disease can cause due to lack of this, but it can surely cause anxiety.
  2. Histidine: it increases the growth of blood cells and is responsible for the repairing of tissue. It protects the covering of the myelin sheath. Deficiency of this can lead to anaemia and kidney-related disease.
  3. Threonine: it is essential for skin health. They also play an important role in strong teeth. People suffering from indigestion and mild depression should take this for its benefits, which can be very helpful. A study showed that a lack of this in animals caused them to be weaker in diseases.  
  4. Methionine: it is not required for any strong or main purpose but can be very helpful for nails, skin, and hair.
  5. Isoleucine: it is helpful in healing injuries, boosting immunity, and maintaining blood sugar levels. It is also responsible for hormone production. Deficiency can cause muscles related problem that is very common in older adults.
  6. Leucine: helpful in repairing bone and regulating blood sugar levels. Deficiency can cause hair loss, fatigue, and irritation of the skin.
  7. Tryptophan and Phenylalanine are types of amino acids that are required by the body for proper growth and to make sure the rest of the amino acids are used by the body, respectively. Deficiency of these can cause genetic disorders, pellagra, and digestive issues.
amino acid

What is Protein?

Proteins are synthesized by amino acids and perform various functions in the body. Sources of proteins are seafood, lean meats and poultry, eggs, beans and peas, legumes, nuts, seeds, cheese, soy products, milk, yoghurt, and curd.

A deficiency of protein can cause the following problems:

  1. Anorexia and Nervosa: the person with this can have a deficiency of protein, or even the person suffering from with can have a high chance in the future of getting protein deficiency.  
  2. Weak muscles and bones: this is the most important function performed by every type of protein; if there is a deficiency, it will foremost impact the muscles and makes the bone weaker.
  3. Thin and heavy hair fall: lack of protein leads to thin hair and ultimately results in hair fall. To avoid this, certain gummies are consumed to reduce the deficiency.
  4. Growth deficiency: growth in infants will be very low and uneven.
  5. Hormonal imbalance: protein deficiency can cause hormonal imbalance, as amino acids are responsible for the synthesis of hormones.

Proteins in the diet can be increased by just replacing unhealthy junk food with fast food that is rich in protein and other nutritional content, for example, nuts, roasted, chickpeas, etc. curd and dairy products should be added to the meal.

Proteins bar with high sugar content should be avoided.

protein

Main Differences Between Amino Acid and Protein

  1. Amino acids are the blocks that are built by proteins, whereas proteins are strings made up of amino acids.
  2. Both of them can be synthesized in our bodies. While all proteins can be synthesized in the body itself, not all the amino acids required by the body can be synthesized in it.
  3. Both of them are different in terms of molecular mass. Proteins are macromolecules, therefore, have higher molecular mass in comparison to amino acids, which have relatively smaller molecular mass.
  4. Less number of amino acids are required for the synthesis of proteins, mainly 20 are needed in all organisms, but in the case of amino acids, millions of proteins are produced in different organisms.
  5. The structure of amino acids consists of an amino group (NH2), a hydrogen atom (H), and a carboxylic acid group (COOH), along with a variable side chain (R), whereas proteins are the string of amino acids linked with a peptide bond.
  6. Amino acid only has one function of synthesis of protein, whereas proteins perform several functions in the body, from development to proper growth, and lack of protein results in several diseases.  
Difference Between Amino Acid and Protein
References
  1. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/B9780123196521500045
  2. https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/british-journal-of-nutrition/article/amino-acids-and-immune-function/B1A9C1587A8602613F6447BA8404D8E1
  3. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0065323308600091
  4. http://www.aquafair.de/bild/Krill_Enhance.pdf
  5. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0065323308600170

Last Updated : 24 July, 2023

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