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  • Writer's pictureShruti GOCHHWAL

7 Hidden Signs of Protein Deficiency

Protein deficiency is a condition in which your diet does not contain enough protein which is required for your body to function optimally. Protein has many important functions. Primary functions of proteins muscle building, stabilising blood sugar, growth of hair and curbing hunger. It is recommended to eat 0.8gm of protein per kg of body weight. The following are 7 hidden signs of protein deficiency

Hair Loss

One of the most common symptoms of protein deficiency is hair loss. Proteins are made up of amino acids which are essential for hair growth. Hair loss is easy to notice as you can see the hair stuck to a comb or a hairbrush. Protein deficiency paired with a low-calorie diet can make hair loss worse.

Long term protein deficiency has a negative impact on the overall health of hair. It leads to faster ageing.

Slow Healing Injuries and More Sick Days

Have you noticed that small injuries like cuts and bruises are taking a long time to heal or you are taking more sick days than before? The lack of protein in the body affects the immune system. It becomes weaker. A weaker immune system makes the body more susceptible to infections.

Slow healing and getting sick often are signs of a weakened immune system which could be due to protein deficiency.

Fatigue and Body Ache

Protein deficiency makes the body weak which results in a decreased working capacity. A small amount of work can make you tired both physically and mentally.

Proteins are responsible for building and repairing muscles. The lack of protein results in slow repairing of the muscles which causes body aches. In most cases, it prolongs workout induced body aches.

Muscle Loss and Fractures

One of the first signs of protein deficiency is muscle loss and weak bones.

When there is a deficiency of protein, the body starts using skeletal muscles for its protein requirement leading to muscle loss. If your weight is decreasing but your visible fat is not reducing then that means that you are experiencing loss of protein.

Muscle loss is not good for overall health. Protein also has an essential role in bone density and strength of the bone. An easily fractured bone could be a sign of protein deficiency.

An X-ray of a broken bone.

Credits: Pixabay Caption: A lack of protein weakens the bones which can cause fractures.

Constant Urge to Eat

Do you always crave food even if you ate an hour before? When there is less protein in the body, it responds by making you feel hungrier. This constant urge is often satisfied by eating calories. Calories and Carbohydrates only satisfy your hunger for a short period. To curb hunger you need proteins.

An abnormal increase in diet can be a sign of protein deficiency.

People taking food from a table.

Credits: Pexels Caption: Constant hunger is a sign of protein deficiency.

Sleeping Difficulty and Headache

A lack of protein can disrupt your sleep cycle. It can make it difficult to fall asleep as well as cause insomnia. If your sleep cycle is affected then it could be because of protein deficiency.

There are studies which link headaches as a symptom of protein deficiency. These headaches occur at random

A person holding his head because of headache.

Credits: Pexels Caption: Protein deficiency can cause headaches.

Mood Swings

Proteins are necessary for producing two neurotransmitters called dopamine and serotonin. The lack of these neurotransmitters can cause severe mood swings. Protein deficiency also affects the energy balance of the body. A fluctuation in energy levels can make a person irritated and moody.

What to do?

Protein deficiency has to be treated with increasing your protein intake. Eat foods that are rich in protein and that would help in overcoming the deficiency. If you notice these symptoms even after increasing your protein intake then see a dietician who would be able to give you a specific diet that will contain the adequate amount of nutrients required.


Protein is a very important nutrient for the body and its deficiency should not be ignored. Long term lack of protein can cause complications. There is no clinical treatment available for protein deficiency but taking protein through diet is very effective. Improving your diet will help in overcoming protein deficiency.

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