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What is Albumin?

Mary McMahon
Updated May 21, 2024
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Albumin is an family of proteins. Many types can be found all over the natural world, and two of the most familiar examples can be found in egg whites and in human blood. Albumins are an important class of protein, and they are vitally important to health and well being for many organisms. Many plants and animals contain or secrete this protein.

A protein classified as albumin is globular, meaning that it has a roughly spherical structure. When combined with water, such proteins form a colloid, a solution that appears homogeneous although it actually contains multiple substances. The other type of protein, fibrous protein, such as that found in muscles, is not water soluble, and it has a different basic structure.

Within the human body, albumin is an important component of life. It transports essential fatty acids from adipose tissue, otherwise known as fat, to muscle tissue. The protein also contributes to the regulation of osmosis, helping to transport hormones, drugs, and other substances through the blood. A deficiency can lead to medical issues, and medical professionals may request a blood albumin test when investigating a patient's medical condition.

Technically, the albumin found in egg whites is more formally known as ovalbumin. This should not be confused with albumen, which is another name for egg whites in general. A little more than half of the protein found in egg whites are ovalbumin.

When heated, albumin and other proteins tend to coagulate. This property proves very useful in cooking, and it is one of the reasons why eggs are so frequently used in baking. The protein helps baked goods hold their structure. The protein in egg whites is also used for purification, as it tends to trap and store impurities. Egg whites are used to refine dishes like soup, and to treat people with certain types of poisoning, since it binds to the toxin.

When it is cooked, the proteins begin to unfold, recombining in a new configuration; it also turns white and opaque. When beaten, the ovalbumin unfolds partially, creating a filmy foam that encloses pockets of air. As anyone who has beaten eggs too much is aware, when the proteins are beaten too much, they unfold completely and lose structure. Since this protein is flexible, it expands with the air trapped inside the pockets as it bakes, and it will retain the larger shape and yield a light, fluffy texture.

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Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a All The Science researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments

By anon346134 — On Aug 25, 2013

To increase the albumin level, you need to eat more protein rich foods. Egg white is the best source of it, and there are albumin supplements that can be given through IV. For the high levels, just do the opposite of what's mentioned above to reduce it and eat more vegetables, especially if they're juiced.

By anon310584 — On Dec 24, 2012

If the white blood cell count is high at 28,000, will that tend to cause the albumin level to decrease? I have a 1.8 albumin level.

By KoiwiGal — On Nov 06, 2012

@anon80345 - It really depends on what is wrong with your son's kidneys. He can help to make life easier on them by eating a low GI diet to keep his blood sugar levels low and steady and by trying to keep himself healthy in other ways, i.e. not smoking, not drinking, getting regular exercise and so forth.

It really depends on why he has elevated albumin levels. It might be nothing to do with his lifestyle and be based on bad luck or unfortunate genetics.

If the doctor says that dialysis is the only way forward, then you have no choice. If you really don't have the money or insurance, you'll have to see what other options are available to pay (charities, grants and so forth).

I wish you the best of luck and I hope your son gets better soon.

By lluviaporos — On Nov 05, 2012

@anon31873 & anon137712 & everyone else wondering what albumin in the urine means. It means that there is something wrong with your kidneys, because otherwise they would be filtering out the albumin. It might be a simple infection, or it might be something serious. It's impossible to know this from only that one piece of information, unfortunately.

However, if you haven't already seen a doctor about it, you should definitely make the time to go, in case there is something wrong, or something that might quickly become wrong. Good luck!

By anon164993 — On Apr 03, 2011

I am 28 and my albumin is low. how to increase it and how much is necessary for a 28 year old? and what should be the daily supplement to increase? thanks.

By anon150404 — On Feb 07, 2011

Albumin can be found in the urine when there is something wrong with the kidneys. It is usually caused by hypertension.

By anon137712 — On Dec 28, 2010

I am a diabetic person and albumin is found in my urine test. What does it mean when albumin is found in a man's urine test?

By anon107158 — On Aug 28, 2010

what does it mean when albumin excretes in urine? what should we do?

By anon105346 — On Aug 20, 2010

you can increase your albumin level by eating more protein-rich foods. there are drink supplements available out there that have a high protein content, which can help, too.

By anon102557 — On Aug 08, 2010

my father's albumin result was low. what foods can he eat to raise it to a normal level?

By anon88144 — On Jun 03, 2010

i am 22 years old. my albumin is low. What do I need to do? What is the solution? Please, please help me.

By anon80345 — On Apr 27, 2010

Please help me. my son has albumin and he needs to reduce it. Can i make it negative if possible? Please help. Every time we go the doctor his test is positive. Help me please.

I don't want my son go to dialysis because of financial problems, but i want to save the kidney of my son. I really don't know what to do now.

By anon67837 — On Feb 26, 2010

I'm taking albumin polypeptide powder.

could you give me some good info about it? i go to the gym and use to take whey protein but now substituting with albumin. is it bad if you take too much, etc.? and do I have to heat the water temp to mix it with the powder? thanks.

By anon63886 — On Feb 04, 2010

How does albumin work as an antioxidant?

By anon53100 — On Nov 18, 2009

How do you increase albumin? Is there a supplement you can take?

By anon49162 — On Oct 18, 2009

my daughter has albumin way under the limit. but it can detected when she has a fever. she is 5 years old. is she at risk? what can i do? please help me to understand.

By anon48241 — On Oct 11, 2009

my mother is 60 years old. Her albumin is low. What does she need to do? What is the solution?

By anon43705 — On Sep 01, 2009

my albumin is low -- 3.8. what do i need to do?

By anon39263 — On Jul 31, 2009

how is albumin harvested?

By anon31873 — On May 12, 2009

What does it mean when albumin is found in a man's urine test?

By anon29975 — On Apr 12, 2009

I had a medical check and have Albumin of 5,

however the normal score is between 3 to 4.8. Should I go to the Doctor because of these results?

By sancez — On Dec 25, 2008

about 6oo Amino Acids

By anon8367 — On Feb 12, 2008

How many Amino Acids make up this molecule chain?

Mary McMahon

Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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