Functions, sources and daily requirements of proteins:
a) For body growth (body-building)
b) Repair of worn out tissues and healing of wounds.
c) For the blood, to make hemoglobin and blood proteins.
d) For making enzymes and hormones.
e) For secretion of mother' s milk.
f) For the development of antibodies to protect against infections.
g) May be used for energy.
Animal proteins (best for : Milk, curds, cheese, egg, fish and meat. body-building)
Vegetable proteins : Groundnuts and soya beans are the best sources of proteins.
Cereals, pulses (dhal and grams) legumes (peas and beans) oil seeds.
The effects of protein deficiency include the following:
In pregnant woman the baby may be stillborn or premature
In infants and early childhood: Stunted growth and mental retardation, kwashiorkor.
In adults, weakness, anemia, thin muscles, diarrhoea, recurrent infections, delay in wound healing, edema, ascites and liver cirrhosis.
Kwashiorkor: It is also called wet malnutrition. It is caused by not eating enough protein. A child with kwashiorkor may look fat, but he has edema. He has swollen feet, hands and face. When we press the swollen parts, your finger makes a depression or dimple because there is fluid accumulation under the skin. He may be over-weight because of the edema, but when the edema goes, his weight will fall down. Even with edema, the upper arms will be thin, and the arm circumference is low. The child with kwashiorkor also has sores with peeling skin, his hair loses its natural colour, and he is likely to have diarrhoea. He is unhappy, and not active like other children of his age.
Kwashiorkor is the most common in children between 1 - 2 years. Often it first appears in a child following a diarrhoeal or measles infection.
Children with kwashiorkor need extra food, especially foods rich in protein. If possible give eggs, chicken meat and fish. Poor families who cannot afford these may prefer soya beans and groundnuts which are good and cheap sources of protein. Soya beans need to be soaked well before being cooked, or made into flour and mixed with other flour to make porridge.
If a child with kwashiorkor is not able to take feeds, he must be tube-fed, with high protein - calorie liquid foods, about 150 ml per kg per day.