All You Need To Know About Protein Deficiency

on October 21, 2018 / by

A few days ago I read an article in a national daily about the epidemic of Protein Deficiency that's gripping Indians, especially those who follow vegetarian diets. The Indian Dietetic Association (IDA) claims that almost 85% vegetarians are protein deficient, and only about one-third of those people actually know about the lack of protein in their diets. And this is true for both adults as well as children. The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has recently started educating doctors about the importance of protein in terms of quality and quantity in the daily food intake.

As I read the article a chord stuck and I realised how unaware I was about the ideal protein requirement and the role of protein in the development of young children and adults. And hence I started to research all about a balanced diet, more so about protein and I'm glad to share some crucial aspects of it with you. 

There are three macronutrients essential for the human body to sustain life namely protein, fats and carbohydrates. Protein is one powerful nutrient that is present in every living cell of the body. 

Role of Protein
Protein plays a major role in many bodily functions, including building bones, muscles, cartilage and skin; producing blood, enzymes and hormones and repairing body tissue. 20 amino acids make up protein that is needed by the body, of which only 11 are produced within the body while 9 must be supplemented by food. However, the additional protein that is required cannot be stored within the body and hence it is to be consumed on a daily basis. 

Amount of Protein 
The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for protein content for an individual is one gram of protein per kilogram of body weight to meet the basic nutritional requirements. You can use an online calculator to calculate the recommended daily intake as per your age, body type and lifestyle. Experts also emphasise that protein requirement in infants and children are usually higher than normal. 

Effects of Protein Deficiency
Protein Deficiency is the state when your protein intake is unable to meet your body's requirements. Protein deficiency over a long period of time causes numerous side effects for individuals, especially children. Insufficient protein reduces body mass, thereby affecting muscle strength and function causing weakness and cramping. It also adversely affects the immune system, making it difficult to fight infections and prolongs the healing process. 

Sources of Protein
The best sources of high-quality protein are meats, fish, eggs and dairy products, which have all the essential amino acids that the body needs. Some vegetables and fruits also punch in a fairly high level of protein while dairy products provide the necessary amount of protein. 

However as a vegetarian, I find it very challenging to supplement the daily requirement of dietary protein for my children and so while looking for alternative sources of protein I came across a study by the Harvard School of Public Health, which pegged soy protein as a rich source of plant-based protein that has health benefits similar to protein from meat, fish, eggs and cow milk. Soy is regarded as a rich protein source on the basis of its Protein Digestibility-Corrected Amino Acid Score, making it a well-digested source with all the essential amino acids present to support growth and development. The importance of protein cannot be overstated and as a mother, with young children, I have to ensure that I provide a balanced nutritious diet for my little ones to aid their healthy and progressive growth journey, and for that, I’m trusting Soy Protein to do wonders for my cherubs. 

What about you? Let me know in the comments how you ensure a balanced diet for your precious ones.

Until next time,
~ Heena

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