Proteins in the body are broken down into amino acids, and are necessary for the formation of muscles and blood. It plays a major role in the repair of body tissues, which is important in healing cuts and wounds. Another important benefit of protein is that it helps in proper maintenance of the immune system. As it is required to carry out various functions in the body, it is advisable to consume adequate amounts of proteins every day. Failing to do so can result in deficiency diseases. This condition is commonly observed in developing countries.
Proteins are required in little amounts every day, i.e. around 5 ounces for children and 6 - 7 ounces for adults. Marasmic kwashiorkor and protein energy malnutrition (PEM) are the significant diseases caused due to lack of protein. Secondly, having a diet lacking in proteins can make a person prone to diseases like breast cancer, colon cancer, low heart rate, heart diseases, anemia, etc. Trifunctional protein deficiency is one of the rare diseases found in children and adults.
Brittleness of hair, ridges on nails, and loss of muscle mass are the most prominent symptoms of protein deficiency. Following are the other signs and symptoms:
- Brittleness of hair/hair loss
- Lines on nails of toes and fingers
- Reduced pigmentation on scalp and other parts of body
- Weight loss
- Skin rash
- Scaly skin
- Pale skin
- Constant feeling of lethargy
- Soreness of muscle
- Poor healing of wounds
- Sleep disorders
- Mood swings
- Abdominal pain
- Lack of energy
People suffering from trifunctional protein deficiency may also suffer from breathing difficulties and heart problems. Following are the other symptoms:
- Liver disorders
If you observe any of the aforementioned symptoms, it is essential to consult a doctor. In minor cases, the treatment involves including proteins in your diet every day. In case of a severe deficiency, intravenous (IV) protein supplements may be required. It is essential to include protein rich foods in the diet every day in order to treat and prevent the deficiency. Foodstuffs rich in proteins are fish, eggs, duck, turkey, lamb, chicken, pork, beef, soybeans, nuts, seeds, beans, legumes, whole grains, sprouted seeds, tofu, cheese, peanut butter, etc. People following a vegetarian-only diet should make sure their diet does not lack in proteins.
There are several protein supplements available in the market that can be used. However, it is advised to consult a doctor before going for any supplements as overdose of these supplements can lead to toxicity.
As there are several long-term effects like gallstones, heart diseases, organ failure and even death; it is essential to treat and prevent protein deficiency as early as possible. As a concluding note, having a balanced diet helps in the prevention of deficiency diseases to a great extent. Take care!
Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is solely for educating the reader. It is not intended to be a substitute for the advice of a medical expert.