Protein deficiency represents insufficient protein intake and it is responsible for high incidence of starvation and diseases. This condition is common in many countries of the Third World and causes death of millions of people every year. Protein deficiency occurs in developed countries as well mostly because of poverty. Unfortunately, majority of victims of protein deficiency related deaths are children under the age of five. Protein deficiency can be also seen among dieters, vegetarians and vegans due to improperly balanced nutrition.
What is Protein?
Protein is an enzyme that impacts every function within the body. Protein is the key source of amino acids and it plays vital role in the maintenance of healthy bones, muscles and organs. However, it is important to have adequate intake of proteins because too much proteins are damaging to health as well as lack of proteins. Proper amount of required proteins depends on the age, physical activity and other factors. When a diet lacks in proteins, the first source the body will turn to take proteins is the muscles which is known as muscle wasting. This results in weakness and different health conditions.
Rich sources of proteins are meat and animal products such as eggs, milk, cheese, and yogurt. For vegetarians and vegans who follow meat-free diets there are other sources of proteins available. They include: nuts and seeds, whole grains, algae and seaweed, legumes and beans, soy and tofu products. Protein supplements are also available for sufficient protein intake.
Symptoms of Protein DeficiencyWhen our diet doesn’t involve sufficient amount of proteins the whole body begins to suffer. The body begins to withdraw proteins from muscles and other organs. The first symptom of protein deficiency is weakness, muscle cramps and weight loss which occur because of decrease in muscle size. Accumulation of fluid (edema) under the skin in the legs and abdomen results from poor protein intake also. Hair problems that occur due to protein deficiency reflect in reduced pigmentation and hair loss. Nails become brittle and skin problems take place too such as skin rash, dryness of the skin and skin ulcers. Lethargy, exhaustion and loss of natural fat stores are present as well. Protein deficiency can result in severe stomach pain and nausea. Difficulty sleeping and headache also result from protein deficiency. Person suffering from protein deficiency may experience frequent mood swings, anxiety and depression. Fainting can also occur. Protein deficiency can lead to steatosis hepatits, fatty liver disease, Kwashiorkor, arthritis, muscle atrophy, gallstones and organ failure.