Protein is in essential for all body tissues including muscles, skin, enzymes and hormones.
The recommended daily allowance (RDA) is 0.4 grams of protein for each pound of body weight, and if you are an active senior, the daily protein requirements are even higher. Though most diets do include adequate amounts of protein, there are situations where the protein is not being absorbed well and this can cause a deficiency.
There are many things that can lead to protein depletion. If you are a vegetarian or vegan it’s important to make sure you are getting enough protein in your diet or it can lead to muscle wasting. If you are an athlete, you burn more calories and use more protein to build muscle. If you are recovering from an illness or injury or are stressed out, you need at least one and a half times the normal protein recommendations. If you are trying to lose weight and are on a strict diet, protein becomes essential for weight loss and to balance your blood sugar. People with digestive issues or low stomach acid don’t digest proteins efficiently.
Common signs of a protein deficiency include:
• Fatty Liver – an accumulation of fat deposits in liver cells. An impaired synthesis of fat-transporting proteins, known as lipoproteins cause this condition.
• Skin, hair and nail problems – Protein deficiency can damage the skin, hair and nails, which are mostly made of protein.
• Muscle Loss – when your body lacks protein, it will draw it from skeletal muscles to perform other body functions. leading to muscle wasting. This problem can increase as we age.
• Bone Fractures – Not enough protein weakens bones and increases fractures. Postmenopausal women are at a high risk for this.
• Frequent Illnesses – a lack of protein can lead to an impaired immune system that increases the risk of infections. It can also make it harder to heal wounds.
• Increased Appetite – if your protein intake is inadequate, your body attempts to restore your protein by increasing your appetite, accelerating your calorie intake, leading to weight gain.
• Brain Fog and Memory Loss – lack of protein can lead to fluctuating blood sugar levels that affect brain functions.
• High Cholesterol – replacing protein with refined carbs and processed foods will increase your cholesterol and cause your liver to process fats less efficiently.
• Insomnia – a rise in cortisol and a decrease in serotonin production are a direct cause of protein deficiency. Carbohydrates require much more insulin than protein does. Eating foods with protein helps with tryptophan and serotonin production.
• Irregular menstrual Cycle – polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a result of a high-sugar-high-carb diet that disrupts the balance of female hormones estrogen, progesterone and DHEA needed to sustain a regular cycle.
Your best sources of protein are meat, fish, chicken, dairy, eggs, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. Vegans can find enough protein in whole grains, lentils, soy, beans, nuts, seeds, and vegetables. You can also supplement your diet with a protein powder made from soy, egg, rice, peas, or whey.