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Long Term Effects Of Protein Deficiency

Protein is the most abundantly found nutrient in our body. It is the building block of the muscles, skin, enzymes and hormones. It is needed for structural growth and maintenance of every cell in the body. We need protein in our diet to help the body repair cells and make new ones.

Adequate protein can be obtained from daily diet. However, when this protein intake is unable to meet your body’s requirement then it leads to protein deficiency. One of the most serious forms of protein deficiency causes a condition called Kwashiorkor, which is common in children in developing countries grappling with malnutrition and imbalanced dietary habits.

Consuming little protein through diet may also cause many disorders in the long run like muscle wasting wherein the body begins to meet protein deficiency by using the nutrient stored in skeletal muscle leading to loss of muscle mass. This leads to poor muscle strength, body imbalance and slowing down of metabolic rate along with the onset of anemia.

Some of the other long-term effects of protein deficiency are listed below.

Weakness and Fatigue

Protein deficiency caused due to imbalanced and restrictive diets adversely impact muscle mass in the body. Protein cannot be stored in body for a long time hence it is essential to replenish its reserves especially for optimum function of muscles that impart strength and agility. Protein deficiency cause muscle thinning, which can make you feel fatigued and weak all the time. Anemia caused due to protein deficiency can make you feel tired as the cells in the body are not supplied with enough oxygen.

Edema

Long-term protein deficiency shows itself in the form of edema, which is caused by low amounts of human serum albumin. This is the most abundant protein in the liquid part of blood or blood plasma. The albumin helps maintain oncotic pressure, which holds fluid in the blood vessels and prevents accumulation of excessive fluid in tissues and other areas in the body. A person suffering from kwashiorkor, an acute protein deficiency condition shows edema in the abdominal cavity making it look swollen.

Skin, Hair and Nail Problems

Collagen is a protein that makes skin cells strong and resilient. Another protein found in the dermis, elastin, keeps skin flexible. It also helps stretched skin regain its shape. Lack of adequate protein in the body leads to skin problems, making it look pale, patchy, dry and flaky.

Keratin is a fibrous structural protein that makes up your hair. Prolonged protein deficiency leads to hair thinning, rough dull hair and weak follicles that impact hair growth. Protein is the primary nutrient in nails too and its deficiency causes weak brittle nails. Deep ridges are formed on nails in persons suffering from severe protein deficiency. Both protein and biotin are essential, which helps in the synthesis of keratin needed for your hair and nails.

Greater Risk of Bone Fractures

Research shows that besides calcium, protein is a key nutrient in maintaining bone health and preventing osteoporosis. Not consuming enough protein may weaken your bones and increase the risk of fractures. Moreover, proteins are an essential component of bone, representing approximately 30% of bone mass, and that bone metabolism is dependent on the continuous dietary protein intake.

Weak muscles caused due to protein deficiency also pose a big risk to imbalanced and skeletal fractures. A study in postmenopausal women found that a higher protein intake was associated with a lower risk of hip fractures and slowed bone loss at a later age.

Fatty Liver

Fat accumulation occurs in liver cells due to impaired synthesis of fat- transporting proteins known as lipoproteins, a result of long-term intake of protein poor diets. This liver fat is harmful for liver health and if left untreated, the condition may cause inflammation, liver scarring and potentially liver failure.

Erratic Moods

Your brain uses chemicals called neurotransmitters to relay information between cells. Many of these neurotransmitters are made of amino acids, which are the building blocks of protein. So a lack of protein in your diet could mean your body can't make enough of those neurotransmitters, and that would change how your brain works. With low levels of dopamine and serotonin, for example, you may feel depressed or overly aggressive.

Poor Immune Function

Dietary protein is broken down into smaller chains of amino acids that help our immune system make antibodies that activate white blood cells to fight off viruses, bacteria, and toxins. Protein malnutrition reduces concentrations of most amino acids in plasma, which results in a poor immune function.

You also need protein to digest and absorb other nutrients that keep you healthy. Studies tell, that protein can change the levels of disease-fighting "good" bacteria in your gut and help you fight diseases effectively.

So What Do We Do?

Apart from including more protein sources to our regular diet, we must include plant-based protein supplements to our routine as a post workout drink. Go for plant-based supplements over whey protein as they are cleaner, more effective and gut friendly. Wellbeing Nutrition's new Vegan Superfood Protein Powder is a perfect protein solution for one and all as this blend is derived from rich ingredients sourced from all over the globe. Derived from golden European peas(pea protein isolate), brown rice & chia seeds, this protein comes with a blend of microprotein plant peptides and dietary fiber, which makes it the best plant-based supplement for you. It also helps with better absorption and aids in boosting your metabolism. It also contains all essential amino acids and branched chain amino acids, which are necessary to preserve and build lean muscle tissue. Additionally, it is a natural blend, which is free from artificial sugar and colourants. It is available in two flavours-Vanilla Caramel Protein and Dark Chocolate Hazelnut. 

Final Takeaway

As per dietary guidelines, we need 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. Growing children and pregnant women need more protein to support body function and growth. Consuming less than the recommended daily amount can severely impact health and lead to serious disorders in the long run. Regular intake of protein-rich diets and supplements can meet the daily protein requirement of the body and maintain overall health.

Protein is one of the most important macronutrient required to support vital functions in the body and make it stronger from within. This nutrient is not only a building block but also an essential co-factor in numerous life supporting bio-synthesis in the body. Get yourself Wellbeing Nutrition's Vegan Superfood Protein Powder if your daily diet doesn't comprise the recommended dose of this vital macronutrient. 

References

Low protein diets produce divergent effects on energy balance
Adel Pezeshki, Rizaldy C. Zapata, Arashdeep Singh, Nicholas J. Yee, Prasanth K. Chelikani
Sci Rep. 2016; 6: 25145. Published online 2016 Apr 28. doi: 10.1038/srep25145
PMCID:
PMC4848496
Article PubReader PDF–2.0MCite

Coulthard MG. Oedema in kwashiorkor is caused by hypoalbuminaemia. Paediatr Int Child Health. 2015;35(2):83-89. doi:10.1179/2046905514Y.0000000154

GODWIN KO. Skin, hair and nail in protein malnutrition. World Rev Nutr Diet. 1961;3:103-128.

Bonjour JP. Dietary protein: an essential nutrient for bone health. J Am Coll Nutr. 2005;24(6 Suppl):526S-36S. doi:10.1080/07315724.2005.10719501

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