One-fifth, or 20%, of the body’s weight is protein. Protein (S-Prot) is found in all cells, such as sinews, muscles, hair, and nails.
The purpose of proteins is to:
- Act as antibodies in immune defence
- Transport gases and nutrients in the blood
- Act as building blocks of hormones and enzymes
- Form new tissues during growth
- Strengthen the skin, nails, sinews,and connective tissue
- Transport fats in the blood and other body fluids
- Bind and transport oxygen in the blood
- Bind oxygen in muscle tissue
Proteins are made up of 20 different amino acids. Not all proteins contain all of the amino acids. Amino acids can be divided into essential and non-essential amino acids. The body cannot build essential amino acids itself; they are obtained from food. The body makes non-essential amino acids from essential amino acids. Excess protein obtained from the diet is stored as fat in the body.
As is commonly known, protein is found in meat, but vegetables also contain it. Vegetable proteins are present in beans, peas, seeds, nuts, and grains, for example. Animal-based sources are fish, chicken, low-fat meat, eggs, and dairy products. As a source of energy, proteins account for 10–20%, while fats account for 25–40% and carbohydrates for 45–60%.
Athletes and those who regularly do sports need higher amounts of protein to maintain the nitrogen balance of the body. Protein is available in abundance in food, so increasing meal portions guarantees a sufficient intake of proteins.
When should protein be measured?
Blood protein levels can be measured when investigating nutritional disorders, diseases of the liver and kidneys, chronic diseases involving swelling, immune deficiency, and when suspecting diseases that produce lots of proteins in the blood.
It can be a good idea to have protein tested in connection with the following symptoms:
- Fragile nails or hair
- Weak muscle mass
- Infection tendency
- High blood pressure
- Skin symptoms on the arms, legs, and face
- Weight loss
- Joint symptoms
Normally, the body tries to save as much protein as possible and, if necessary, reuse the amino acids it contains. Therefore, very little protein usually accumulates in the urine.
What does a protein test measure?
Proteins can be measured from the blood or urine. Urinary protein measurement is used for assessing kidney function.
How is the protein test result interpreted?
Normally, the result is:
- 62–78 g/l
Please contact your physician or other healthcare professional if you suspect an illness or need help interpreting the results.
Read more about defining reference values.
What can cause elevated protein values?
High protein values can occur in the following conditions:
- Dehydration of the body
- Chronic diseases such as autoimmune diseases (e.g., rheumatoid arthritis)
- Myeloma (malignant blood disease)
Long-term excessive intake of proteins can increase the risk of bowel cancer. In addition, it should be noted that some of the amino acids in proteins contain nitrogen. They are secreted via the kidneys into the urine. If the kidneys are overloaded, their function is affected.
What can cause decreased protein values?
Usually, low protein levels may occur in the chronically ill and elderly people who eat poorly. When the protein level is below 40 g/l, it causes swelling. Decreased protein levels can occur in the following conditions:
- Chronic liver disease
- Skin diseases
- Excessive hydration
- Kidney damage
Low protein level can cause decreased muscle mass. Long-term deficiency can make the heart muscle weaker, which results in a life-threatening state.
The most typical additional protein tests:
- Comprehensive picture of lipid values (2245 fS-Lipids)
- Albumin (1028 S-Alb, 4586 P-Alb)
SYNLAB test list: Protein (2516 S-Prot, 2519 U-Prot, 2513 dU-Prot) https://www2.synlab.fi/laboratoriokasikirja/tutkimuskuvaukset/proteiini/
National Institute for Health and Welfare: Proteiinit https://thl.fi/fi/web/elintavat-ja-ravitsemus/ravitsemus/mita-ruoka-sisaltaa/proteiinit
Tehylehti: Ruoka on riittävä proteiinin lähde https://www.tehylehti.fi/fi/terveys/ruoka-riittava-proteiinin-lahde
Fasting is not required
This examination does not require fasting