Your body is made up of thousands of minerals, vitamins, enzymes, and other elements, but there is one nutrient that makes a powerful contribution to the formulation and function of almost every body part. Have you guessed what it is?

Foods to Prevent Protein DeficiencyThe Power of Protein

In a healthy human body, protein is present in proportions second only to water. It makes up approximately 17% of your body mass and has a direct effect on almost every organ and metabolic process. For this reason, many body-builders work to increase their protein intake because it has a noticeable effect on muscle growth. A deficiency in protein can have the opposite effect. After years of research in nutritional science, nutritionist Adelle Davis noticed the following symptoms of protein deficiency in her patients:

  • Stooped shoulders and hunched posture
  • Cracked, peeling fingernails
  • Protruding abdomen
  • Low blood pressure
  • Sunken chest
  • Flat feet
  • Anemia

A combination of several or more of these symptoms could leave one looking and feeling shorter, smaller, and weaker. Fortunately, it is not difficult to reverse the symptoms of a protein deficiency; simply scrutinize your diet and make sure it is well-rounded with healthy portions of protein.


The amount of protein one should consume daily varies from person to person. Age, weight, and lifestyle can affect your daily requirements. A sedentary woman in her 50s who weighs 140 pounds may need considerably less than a heavy-set young man with a very active lifestyle. How much protein do you need?

At the time Adelle Davis was writing her book, the Food and Nutrition Board of the National Research Council recommended these amounts:

ChildrenTeens Adults
Under 12 yearsOver 12 Years 
1-3:   40 gramsGirls 13-15:   80 gramsMen:   70 grams
4-6:   50 grams16-20:   75 gramsWomen:   60 grams
7-9:   60 gramsBoys 13-15:   85 gramsPregnancy:   85 grams
10-12:   70 grams16-20:   100 gramsLactation:   100 grams

However, she also notes:

If one’s diet has been deficient in protein for some time, an intake of 150 grams or more daily is probably advisable for a month or more.

A rule of thumb given by some is to consume 20% – 30% of your daily calories in the form of protein to keep your body functioning optimally, inside and out.  (Others recommend slightly lower percentages with high percentages of healthy fats).  It is not difficult to incorporate protein into your diet.   Plenty of foods  provide healthy amounts of protein. 

  • Fish
  • Poultry
  • Meat
  • Milk and non-instant powdered skim milk
  • Yogurt
  • Cheese and cottage cheese
  • Eggs
  • Seeds like chia, pumpkin, squash, hemp
  • Wheat germ
  • Quinoa
  • Buckwheat
  • Spirulina or other blue-green algae
  • Nutritional yeast
  • Beans (incomplete protein)
  • Peanut butter (incomplete protein)
  • Nuts (incomplete protein)
  • Whole grains (incomplete protein)

Remember to round out your protein intake with fresh vegetables, leafy greens, and fruits to ensure your body receives the range of nutrients it needs to keep you looking and feeling healthy.

See more nutrition tips from Adelle Davis:

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