Protein is a nutrient that is highly essential for the growth and maintenance of the body. It also plays an important role in the repair of body tissues. Proteins are found in all cells of the body and form the building blocks of life.
They are broken down in our body into amino acids that are essential for the formation and maintenance of bones, muscles, blood and other organs of the body. Since they are vital to sustain life, it is important to consume sufficient amounts of proteins every day.
If the body does not get adequate amounts of proteins daily, there is the risk that you may suffer from various ailments caused due to protein deficiency.
What is protein deficiency? What happens if you are protein deficient? Let’s have a look. Protein deficiency occurs mainly due to the insufficient intake of protein. Famine, poverty and highly restrictive diet are other contributing factors to protein deficiency.
The lack of protein in your diet can lead to several serious diseases and even death. Sadly, protein deficiency is responsible for the death of millions of people every year.
Protein deficiency symptoms
The various symptoms of protein deficiency include
– Muscle wasting – The body compensates for the deficiency of proteins by utilizing the stores of protein in the body, the primary target being muscles. This condition is called muscle wasting.
– Weight loss
– Edema – Accumulation of fluids under the skin, especially the legs, ankles and feet
– Weakness and lethargy
– Brittle nails
– Splitting of hair and hair loss
– Drying and flaking of the skin and the appearance of skin rashes
– Abdominal pain
– Lack of energy
– Weak immune system
– Poor healing of wounds
Adverse effects of protein deficiency
Protein deficiency, if left untreated can cause many catastrophic results, a few of which are mentioned below.
– Kwashiorkor – This is a condition that affects children. Some of the symptoms of this disease include swollen abdomen, enlarged liver, and inflammation of the skin, tooth loss, thinning of hair and swollen feet. Kwashiorkor can weaken the immune system and can also slow down the physical and mental growth of the child.
– Heart problems
– Liver cirrhosis
– Gall stones
– Deterioration of muscles
– Organ failure
Protein deficiency treatment
If you experience any of the symptoms mentioned above, it is important to consult a doctor immediately to determine if protein deficiency is the real culprit. The diagnosis can be done with the help of a few blood tests.
The treatment of protein deficiency actually depends on the severity of the symptoms. If the symptoms are mild, the treatment simply involves incorporating high protein food sources in your daily diet.
These foods include nuts, whole grains, legumes, beans, sprouted seeds, soybeans, cheese, yogurt, tofu, peanut butter, potatoes, broccoli, spinach, eggs, fish, and meat such as beef, pork, lamb and turkey. Serious protein deficiency may require treatment with intravenous protein supplements.
Children generally require 0.5 grams of protein per pound of body weight and adults require around 60 grams of protein per day. The best way to ensure adequate intake of proteins, is to keep track of the foods you eat on a daily basis. As a concluding note, having a well balanced diet every day can help prevent protein deficiency diseases and enable you to lead a healthy life.