Every type of protein is constructed of a long sequence of amino acids, which are organic compounds made up of carbon, oxygen, and hydrogen atoms. Amino acids are joined together by peptide bonds (green) to form an amino acid chain, or peptide. When more than 4 amino acids bond together, it is called a polypeptide. Polypeptides can contain hundreds of amino acids. About 20 amino acids (or 22, depending on how they’re categorized) are combined to make proteins in great structural variety. Protein types number in the hundreds of thousands, each with a sequence that is unique in the number, type, order, and shape of amino acids in its chain.
There are two categories of amino acids. Essential amino acids are those that the body cannot produce. These 9 amino acids must be derived from your diet. The 11 nonessential amino acids are naturally synthesized in the body - but they are still essential to your health and well-being.
This model shows 4 amino acids joined by peptide bonds. Carbon atoms are dark gray, hydrogen atoms are white, nitrogen atoms are blue, radicals are purple, peptide bonds are green, and oxygen atoms are red.
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