WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF PROTEIN DEFICIENCY?
An early symptom of protein deficiency is pain in the joints, especially the knees.
Another early symptom is needing more sleep than when younger.
A more serious symptom is a loss of appetite. This is serious because eating less is likely to increase the severity of the deficiency. In severe cases it can result in ‘unintentional weight loss’, which is a progressive condition that can be difficult to overcome.
The wasting away of muscles. The early signs that this is happening is being unsteady when standing, being prone to falls, and even having difficulty opening jars. If not treated, the person will become increasingly weak, and frail. Their back becomes hunched over and they have difficulty walking, even with a Zimmer frame. They continue getting weaker, and it can eventually be fatal. The good news is that with sufficient protein in the diet, and exercise, the muscles can be rebuilt, even with people in their nineties.
The nerves stop functioning properly, this may result in an inability to control movements properly. They may become forgetful, and eventually develop dementia.
A lack of protein causes thin flaking skin that bruises easily and only recovers from injury, very slowly.
There is a tendency to become prone to getting various diseases, and be slow to recover from them.
There is an increased likelihood of having various other problems such as heart attacks, strokes, weak bones, and anaemia.
Don’t expect to have all these symptoms, two or three are enough to suspect there could be a shortage of protein in the diet. But it must be remembered that these symptoms can be caused by other problems. For example, a shortage of iron can cause anaemia, and too little calcium can cause osteoporosis.
The symptoms, listed above are often, wrongly, attributed to old age, and are therefore underdiagnosed.
It’s a worry that protein deficiency is underdiagnosed, because if it is not treated, it can become debilitating, and even fatal. When if it had been treated early, the symptoms could be reversed.