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Protein Deficiency Symptoms

Protein Deficiency Symptoms

Do you get tired when you indulge in a physical activity as simple as climbing stairs or taking your dog for a walk? This could be an indication of a protein deficiency. You will need to crosscheck for other symptoms of this condition, like hair fall and skin problems, to ascertain the same.
Abhijit Naik
Last Updated: Apr 23, 2018
How Much Protein Do I Need?
If experts are to be believed, you need at least 0.36 g of protein for every pound (lb) you weigh. If you weigh 100 lb, you require 36 g of protein, and if you weigh 120 lb, you require 43.2 g of the same.

Protein deficiency is responsible for high incidence of health hazards related to starvation and diseases across the world. The condition is not just restricted to underdeveloped nations wherein most people live in poverty and don't have enough food to eat, but is also seen in developed and developing nations where people have surrendered to fad diets. Even worse, most of the victims of this condition are children under the age of five. In fact, kwashiorkor, which is caused as a result of not getting enough protein, is more common in children than in adults.
One may argue that cases of kwashiorkor and other similar conditions are not found in developed or developing countries, which in itself shows that we are getting our daily dose of protein through our diet. However, it is not as simple as it seems. A major source of amino acids, protein plays a vital role in human growth, particularly in the development of various parts of our body, ranging from hair to muscles. Neither too much protein, nor its deficiency is good for health. The key is the right amount of protein intake, which by large depends on several factors including age, physical activity, etc.
Protein Deficiency
In medicine, protein deficiency is a term used to refer to a health condition characterized by insufficient amount of proteins in the body. It is caused due to restrictive diet, lack of knowledge about high protein foods, malnutrition, etc. If our body doesn't get the necessary protein, it starts using the protein stored in muscles, which, in turn, leads to health problems ranging from hair loss to muscle atrophy―even in healthy individuals.
Signs and Symptoms
Deficiency of protein reflects on various parts of our body. The symptoms normally take some time to surface, as our body relies on proteins in our muscles when it doesn't get the required amount of protein. Simple conditions like extreme fatigue or decrease in energy levels are the initial signs of protein deficiency. If ignored, the condition can worsen and even result in death at times. Most common symptoms of protein deficiency include ...
  • Weakness and excessive weight loss, which can be attributed to muscle loss, such that even walking or climbing stairs will leave the person exhausted.
  • Brittle nails of hands and fingers, with ridges running from top to bottom.
  • Edema, a medical condition characterized by fluid retention under the skin―especially in feet and ankles.
  • Hair problems, such as reduced pigmentation, hair loss, and brittle hair.
  • Skin problems, like skin ulcers, dryness, rashes, and flaky skin.
  • Hampering of the healing process, as amino acids required for the same are not available.
  • Lack of sleep and severe headache as a result of low blood sugar.
  • Extreme pain in the stomach, accompanied by nausea.

The person may also experience frequent mood swings and severe depression. Over the period, the condition can further deteriorate and lead to complications like gallstones, arthritis, muscle atrophy, organ failure, etc.
The easiest method of treating or preventing protein deficiency is to resort to a high protein diet, which can be done by including meat, eggs, pulses, etc., in your daily diet. If you are a vegetarian, you will have to resort to plant-based protein to meet the protein requirements of your body. If the symptoms are severe, you should promptly consult a doctor. Severe symptoms may indicate extreme deficiency, in which case you might have to resort to protein supplements or medical aid to treat the same.
Disclaimer: This article is for informative purposes only and should not be treated as a substitute for professional medical advice.