7 Adverse Effects Of Protein Deficiency

7 Adverse Effects Of Protein Deficiency

Protein is a macronutrient that is essential for the construction, maintenance and repair of all your body’s cells.  Your body cannot survive without this nutrient.  Failing to consume enough can have a number of negative side effects and ultimately leads to death.

Protein deficiency normally affects people in developing countries who cannot get enough of this nutrient as a result of famine.  It can also affect people in developed countries who make poor dietary choices (usually as a result of fad diets or poverty).  Vegetarians and vegans are also more susceptible to protein deficiency because they eat little or no meats and dairy products (two food groups that are rich sources of protein).  In this article I will be discussing seven of the adverse effects of protein deficiency.

1) KWASHIORKOR:- Kwashiorkor is a type of protein deficiency that affects children.  It has a number of symptoms which include an enlarged liver, a swollen abdomen, pedal oedema (swollen feet), skin depigmentation, skin inflammation, thinning hair and tooth loss.  Kwashiorkor can also affect the immune system and inhibit the production of antibodies (proteins that are used by the immune system to identify and neutralise foreign objects).  Finally, it can inhibit a child’s mental and physical development.

2) MARASMUS:- Marasmus is a type of protein deficiency that can lead to fatigue, muscle wasting, reduced body fat levels, reduced energy levels and weight loss.  It also reduces the effectiveness of the immune system and makes sufferers more susceptible to infections.

3) IMPAIRED MENTAL HEALTH:- Long term protein deficiency can affect your mental health in a number of ways.  It can lead to mental retardation (particularly in children) and also cause anxiety, crankiness, depression and moodiness.

4) OEDEMA:- Not getting enough protein can lead to oedema (fluid retention).  This can cause swelling in a number of areas of the body such as the feet, hands and stomach.  Apart from the swelling oedema can also cause aching in the limbs, discoloured skin, high blood pressure and stiff joints.

5) ORGAN FAILURE:- As I mentioned above, protein is needed for the construction, maintenance and repair of all your body’s cells.  Failing to consume enough of this important nutrient means that your body will have nothing to maintain and repair your organ cells with.  In the long term this will prevent your organs from functioning properly and cause them to fail.

6) WASTING AND SHRINKAGE OF MUSCLE TISSUES:- When you do not get enough protein in your diet your body starts to source it from elsewhere.  One of the first sources your body turns to is the muscles.  If your body does take protein from the muscles it causes them to shrink and can also lead to weakness.

7) WEAK IMMUNE SYSTEM:- Protein is essential for the production of antibodies which are a key part of the immune system.  If you become deficient in protein your body will be unable to manufacture these antibodies.  This makes you more susceptible to infection as your body will struggle to fight foreign objects.

SUMMARY

Protein deficiency is a very serious condition.  In the short term it will lead to the symptoms discussed in this article and in the long term it will lead to death.  Fortunately, protein is available from a wide selection of foods including dairy products, meats, nuts, certain fruits and certain vegetables.  To avoid protein deficiency you should ensure that a minimum of 15% of your daily calories come from protein.

Now I want to hear your thoughts.  Do you eat enough protein?  Have you ever suffered from protein deficiency?  Let me know by leaving a comment.

Sources:
Protein Deficiency (Wise Geek)
Protein (WHFoods)
Protein (Wikipedia)

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Comments

  1. melisa stuckey says

    My only Grand Child has been diagniosed with this.my heart is aching because the doctor do not know how much medicine to give her for her age.Her mother (my daughter)is too because of the unknowing the uncertainty of what the future is holding for our beautiful baby girl

    [Reply]

    Tom Reply:

    Very sad to hear that Melisa. I wish your daughter all the best and hope the doctors come up with a solution for you.

    [Reply]

    cummy Reply:

    so how is the baby doing, i am so sorry to hear tht since in this early stage it could be fatal

    [Reply]

  2. sushil says

    hi
    respted sir,

    i was unaware about this informatin which you edited in this website,
    fistof all i would like to tank for your enough infromation on protien

    i may be suffering from protein deficiency ,bcoz the abouve mentioned symptoms 90% match to my symptoms.i always fall ill like fever,back ache ,cold, feel weakness, etc,
    sir,if i starded now taking sufficient protien will i be able to recover my protien balance and can i live happy life?
    pls help sir,

    [Reply]

    Tom Reply:

    Hi Sushil – If you are deficient in protein then you should definitely increase your intake of protein. However, if the symptoms persist go see your doctor.

    [Reply]

  3. sam gale says

    what year did you publish this?

    [Reply]

    Tom Reply:

    Hi Sam – I published this in October 2010. You can see the publication dates at the top left of all my articles. Let me know if you have any further questions.

    [Reply]

  4. Cathy says

    Hi Tom
    i suspect I don’t get enough protein. I am a vegetarian but can’t stand eating legumes. The majority of my diet is fruit and vegtables. At the moment the only protein that I am getting is in egg whites and cheese and the milk I drink in coffee. I am a runner but at present have a stress fracture in my ankle. I must admit that I eat to run, so at the moment, with not being able to run, I have slipped back into the pattern of mostly fruit & vegtables. If I upped my protein intake I am assuming my stress fracture would heal quicker? How much protein is enough? At one stage I was taking a protein shake, but you must admit the taste of those are quite trying.

    [Reply]

    Tom Reply:

    Hey Cathy – My opinion is that unless you are an extreme bodybuilder or have some other reason for requiring crazy amounts of protein then 33% of your daily calories is enough. Now your daily calories depends on a lot of things such as your height, your target weight, your level of physical activity etc. The general recommendation for women is 1940 calories per day so based on that figure you should be getting 647 calories (162 grams) of protein each day. However, you may need more or less calories than this each day which would then affect your protein intake.

    My recommendation would be to use an online BMR calculator to calculate your daily required calories, factor in your activity levels and then initially base your protein requirements by using 33% of the calories that spits out. However, don’t really fully on the calculator. Everyone is different so if you feel it is giving you too many or too few calories try adding or removing until you are happy with what you are eating and you can see it is having the right effect on your body. Hope this helps.

    [Reply]

    Cathy Reply:

    Hi Tom

    Its been five months since I first contacted you. I laughed when I read the amount of calories you use as a general recommendation for women as I am what you would call a lazy eater and wouldn’t even come close to consuming that number of calories. In December I started again on the protein powder supplement and while I probably only take it five to six times a week, I have also upped my egg intake (white only can’t handle the yolks) and have introduced cheese as well. I can feel that I am stronger and I have even noticed an improvement in my hair quality that I can only put down to better nutrition. I am running again and am enjoying it immensely. While i have often heard that food fuels the body I have never really taken it or believed it totally before now. I still am a bit short on the 33% of my daily calories in protein target but its a lot better than it was. Many thanks for your input and advice.
    Kind regards
    Cathy

    [Reply]

    Tom Reply:

    I’m glad to hear it’s worked for you Cathy. I know what you mean about the amount of protein calories sounding high when you are used to a carbohydrate heavy diet. It is quite a big dietary change to eat less bread and replace it with more fish, meat or eggs and to start using protein supplements. However, once you get into a routine, it does become a lot easier.

    If you ever want some ideas for high protein recipes, these Primal Blueprint Recipes from Mark’s Daily Apple are brilliant. There’s lots to choose from so they really help keep your diet fresh.

  5. M Dorsey says

    I am dealing with a double edged sword right now. After develpoing several food allergies and intollerances over the last few years, my doctor is suspecting that I am in the early stages of protein deficincy, the trouble i am having is that I am intollerant to protein, i get sick withing half hour or so from eating especially red meat. Along with that i am severely allergic to nuts, shell fish and several fruits. I am at a loss of what I can do, any advice would be greatly appreciated :)

    [Reply]

    Tom Reply:

    Hi there – Unfortunately I wouldn’t know what to recommend for a protein deficiency when you are intolerant to protein. I think your doctor is the best person to answer this question.

    [Reply]

  6. Janet Moore says

    I have recently been diagnosed. So far no medicine or increased intake of protein has helped. Feet and legs are huge, I am weak. Muscles flabby. Dry skin and hair. Normally blood pressure is within normal limits and is now very high. I have been referred to a nephrologist. The trouble there is the long wait to see one. There must not be enough in that field of medicine. I am scared.

    [Reply]

    Tom Reply:

    I’m sorry to hear that Janet. I hope that a slot opens up for you with the nephrologist sooner rather than later.

    [Reply]

  7. says

    I am 30 yrs old. and 6’6″ 265 lbs, about 3 months ago I was 310 lbs. I began eating only fruits and vegetables everyday and working out like a machine. This past week I started to become very irritable even after workouts I was cranky, which isn’t typical because I’m so use to the “natural high” after working out. After speaking to a buddy of mine at the gym, he suggested to increase my protein intake and immediately last night I went home and crushed a 6 egg omelete loaded with vegetables, and I woke up this morning and crushed an oatmeal with fruit. I’m sitting at my desk at work right now and I feel great. It’s the simple things like this that keep me hungry for knowledge…and the quest continues. Eat that protein, gotta gotta gotta, get that, gotta get that protein.

    [Reply]

    Tom Reply:

    Glad to hear you learnt something new and that the additional protein has improved your mood. I’ve never had an omelette with fruit before. How do they taste?

    [Reply]

  8. Michele says

    Thanks for this information. I can’t believe how hard it is to find out the effects of protein deficiency on the net!

    My problem is a little different to most other previous posters. Basically, I enjoy eating protein rich foods and indeed my diet is quite balanced. In 2007 I was diagnosed as having MPGN Type II which means I have Chronic Kidney Disease.

    The great news is that my kidney function is near that of someone with healthy kidneys (with a GFR of greater than 89), however the downside is that I lose a serious amount of protein. Eg 460.1mg/mmol ( with a protein/creatinine ratio of 33.83 when the ‘normal anger’ is between 0.0 and 2.8!

    Because I’m losing about 30 times more protein than most people then Im obviously concerned that he protein loss is bound to have an effect on me.

    The dilemma is, I get the impression people with nephrotic syndrome are told to limit their protein intake, but then go do I try to compensate for this loss? Which other foods should I try to eat to replace the nutrients I am not getting from protein?

    Any advice?

    Thanks
    Michele

    [Reply]

    Tom Reply:

    Thanks for your comment Michele. To be honest, I’m not very with this disease, so I can’t really give you a very good answer. It seems like a bit of a catch 22 situation. If you’re being told to limit your protein intake but you’re also losing a serious amount of protein then I don’t know what to suggest. There aren’t any other nutrients you can eat to replace protein. Protein is the only nutrient that can build, repair and maintain your body’s cells.

    Have you asked your doctor for any advice on this? If not, I’d recommend you check with them.

    Tom

    [Reply]

  9. bushra says

    well i am suffering from it for a long time. I suffer from sore joints, anxiety, moodiness and depression. I have lost of weight during three years. So any suggestion???

    [Reply]

  10. bushra says

    Most of the symptoms you described, matches mine. I can’t manage stress and do suffer from high blood pressure and different skin diseases.

    [Reply]

    Tom Reply:

    Hi Bushra – If you think your symptoms may be linked to not getting enough protein, then I’d try to increase your dietary intake. The 6 foods in this article are all top sources of protein, so if you eat more of them, you’ll be able to up your intake.

    However, if you’re suffering from all these health problems, I’d also go and see your doctor as it sounds like you could have underlying health issues too.

    [Reply]

  11. abdisamad says

    Hi Tom ,
    i am glad that finally i get to know some thing about to my problem, i have been suffering long time to fulfill my dream to have the body i wanted, but still can not get that dream body, i tried to to register different gym, tried to buy different training program, but still lacking some thing, not getting muscle, my muscles is weak i do look some one who does body building but i do not have the body of the bodybuilders , may be what i have been lacking is what i read your article all i need is to get rid of this weak muscle and get big muscles what can i do if u can help me

    [Reply]

    Tom Reply:

    Hi Abdisamad – I’ll try and help you but I need a bit more information first. What workout are you currently doing? What do you eat in an average day?

    [Reply]

  12. abdisamad says

    Hi Tom, actually i stop training after suffering long time not growing my muscles, almost 5 months i did not train at all but i used to train split workout and i changed last time strong lift , but i did not get the muscles i wanted, i also used to buy different type of protein but my poor diet and poor sleep did not help me out to reach my goal i wanted,

    [Reply]

    Tom Reply:

    Hi Abdisamad – OK. Your previous training program sounds pretty solid but you’re going to need to make sure you’re getting enough sleep and eating the right foods in order for your muscles to grow. If you’re still struggling to eat healthy, check out my healthy recipes page below. There are lots of tasty, protein packed options on there which should help your muscles grow…

    http://www.freefitnesstips.co.uk/healthy-recipes

    [Reply]

  13. James says

    I have a kidney disease called Nephrotic Syndrome. Whenever my kidneys begin malfunctioning, they filter out the protein in my body. I immediately swell up like a balloon (I can gain anywhere from 10 to 30 pounds in a week) because of water retention and I have to cut my salt intake. I get cranky, depressed, and anxious and I snap at people all the time. My legs often get really stiff. The only thing that helps is steroids. I never know if I should take in more protein to compensate what I’m losing or not change the amount so as not to make my kidneys work harder and weaken. I’m a vegetarian but not vegan.

    [Reply]

    Tom Reply:

    Hi James – I wouldn’t be able to advice you on protein intake in relation to nephrotic syndrome. Have you consulted your doctor on this?

    [Reply]

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