Protein is vital to your diet so your body can repair damaged cells and manufacture new ones. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, or UMMC, protein is more important during certain life stages, such as childhood and puberty, as well as during pregnancy.The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for protein is measured in grams. Your RDA for protein varies depending on your age and gender.
More About Protein
Proteins are comprised of amino acids, which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) equates with building blocks. Amino acids that your body cannot make itself are called essential amino acids; they're vital to your diet and found in complete protein sources, also known as "high quality proteins." Incomplete proteins are those that contain far fewer essential amino acids. Between 10 and 35 percent of your daily calories should come from protein sources.
Protein for Children
The RDA for children between the ages of 1 and 3 years of age is 13 grams of protein. Children between the ages of 4 and 8 need 19 grams of protein, and those aged 9 to 13 require 34 grams. Teenage girls between the ages of 14 and 18 require 46 grams of protein daily, while same-age boys need 52 grams.
Protein for Adults
Adult women between the ages of 19 and 70+ require 46 grams of protein, the same amount needed during adolescence. Same-age adult men need 56 grams of protein, 4 grams more than they required during teenage years.
Getting Enough Protein
To make sure you get the requisite grams of protein you need daily, calculate the amount found in specific servings of protein-rich foods. For example, a cup of milk contains 8 grams of protein, while a 3-oz. piece of meat contains around 21, says the CDC. According to the National Institutes of Health, two to three servings of food high in protein is enough for most adults. To make sure you're eating a well-rounded diet, the U.S. Department of Agriculture established an online tool that helps you plan out your meals at MyPyramid.Gov.
High quality proteins rich in essential amino acids are found in animal-based foods, such as meat, fish, poultry, eggs, milk and other dairy foods. Incomplete proteins are derived from plants and include foods such as beans, whole grains and nuts. Complementary proteins are two different foods, such as beans and rice, that are incomplete protein sources when eaten alone; however, when served together, they give you the right amounts of essential amino acids. When choosing protein-rich foods, the Harvard School of Public Health advises limiting your consumption of red meat and avoiding processed meats entirely. Eat foods low in saturated fat, such as fish, poultry and beans. Opt for reduced-fat or non-fat milk and milk products.