Schools Nutrition A Closer Look at Proteins BY MAGIC BREAKFAST'S NUTRITION TEAM Every cell in the body is made of protein, which makes it an important macronutrient in our diets. Protein is vital for growth, body repair and overall maintenance of good health. Just like adults, children need energy to carry out their body functions and to be active. In particular children require energy for growth, which protein can provide. How much protein does a child need? In the UK, most people are getting a sufficient amount of protein in their diet. However, certain groups of people, including individuals who suffer from a particular illness or injury, have higher protein needs than the rest of the population. Children and infants require extra protein for growth. To give an idea of what this means, the reference nutrient intake (RNI) for a 4 to 6-year-old child is 22g of protein per day. The RNI for a 7 to 10-year-old child is 28.3g per day. Did you know? Proteins are made up of building blocks of chemicals called amino acids. There are 20 standard amino acids. Nine of the 20 are essential amino acids which we must get through our diets as our bodies cannot make them. What foods are good sources of protein for a child? Most people are not aware that there is protein in a wide variety of different types of food. Having an understanding of which foods contain protein is a good idea as it is recommended that everyone varies the sources of protein in their diets to ensure they get all of the essential amino acids. Good sources of protein at breakfast time include: - Milk - Soy milk - Eggs - Cheese - Yoghurt - Peanut butter - Bread - Baked beans - Lean meats, fish or poultry Remember: it is recommended that children consume 2-3 servings of protein every day.