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Side Effects of Not Enough Protein

by Kim

Kim's Question:

What are the side effects of not eating enough protein?

Suzy's Answer:

Hi, Kim! This is a great question and one that is a concern for anyone on a special diet or living in a situation with limited resources.

First let me say that proteins are organic compounds made up of building blocks called “amino acids.” There are about 20 common amino acids, with nine of them considered “essential” because the body cannot make them, and therefore, they must be supplied by the food we eat.

Foods that contain all of the essential amino acids are called “complete proteins,” and are generally animal foods. Plant foods do not generally have complete proteins, but by eating combinations of plant foods, called “complementary proteins, ” you can obtain a complete protein.

As you probably know, protein is vital to maintain your health. The main functions of protein include the following:

*Provide basic material for making and repairing body tissues such as skin, bones, tendons, muscles, hair, nails and organs, as well as hormones, enzymes and antibodies

*Maintain proper fluid balance in and out of the cells and promoting proper pH of these fluids through buffering

*Needed for blood clotting of blood

*Acts as transporters carrying nutrients to all parts of the body

*Provide energy for the brain when carbohydrate is unavailable for that purpose

Now to your question:

Depending on the level of protein deficiency, a person who does not eat enough protein may suffer from any of the following symptoms:

Dry skin or skin lesions
Edema (swelling)
Fatty liver
Heart attack - wasting of heart muscle
Inability to maintain body temperature
Lack of growth in children
Loss of appetite
Loss, thinning or discoloration of hair
Malnutrition - poor absorption of nutrients
Muscle wasting
Poor appetite
Reproductive problems
Slow development in children
Susceptibility to infections and disease

For more information about protein and protein foods, visit our protein page by clicking on this link.

Thanks for your question Kim and for visiting our healthy eating website!

Eat and be healthy with my warmest regards,


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