Nutrient Deficiency : 10 Signs of Protein Deficiency in Kids

A great philosopher once quoted “Life is the Mode of Action of Protein”. Couldn’t agree more, can I? To elaborate more, protein is known as the building block of your body. Protein is essential in almost everything, including hair, skin, muscles, energy, hormones, body tissues, and enzymes. While protein is an important nutrient for your body, it is possible that you are protein-deficient. This nutrient deficiency occurs when your protein intake is insufficient to meet your body’s needs. This deficiency can affect almost all vital body functions and cause a variety of health issues. This deficiency is more common in people or children who have an unbalanced diet structure. So next time, if your body shows any signs and symptoms of protein – Do not let it go unattended.

Listing below the signs that you need to look out to find out whether your child’s body is protein deficient or not. 

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1. Appetite:

There are two aspects here when appetite is considered. If your child has a milder nutrient (protein) deficiency then the appetite might increase. That is, when your body does not get enough amounts of protein, it attempts to restore the protein by increasing the appetite and encouraging you to find something to eat. (Here, majorly kids tend to crave junk foods more) Whereas, on the other hand, if your child has severe protein deficiency, then the appetite may seem to be poor.

2. Weak Bones:

Along with muscles, bones are also affected by low protein intake. Protein benefits the bones with strength and density. Therefore, deficiency of protein may increase the risk of bone fractures in kids as it weakens the bones.

3. Feeling Sluggish:

Not consuming enough protein can affect the muscles that are accountable for movement and posture. Moreover, it slows down the metabolism of the body. In addition to this, protein deficiency is also linked to anaemia which is the primary cause of sluggish feeling.

4. Low Immunity:

Lack of protein in your body may hamper you child’s immunity. Amino acids (proteins) in the blood assists the body’s immune system to produce antibodies that activate the cells to fight off against different viruses and bacteria. Also, studies have also shown that protein can alter the levels of diseases fighting good bacteria in the gut which is also responsible in building the immunity.

5. Slow wound healing:

Our skin is majorly made up of collagen. Collagen is responsible for holding the body together. It plays a major role in providing strength and structure. It is mostly present in bones, connective tissues, tendons, skin, muscles and ligaments. Therefore, protein is of crucial importance when it comes to wound healing. If you feel that your child is taking long enough to heal the wounds, check on the protein levels.

6. Skin, Hair and Nail:

Flaky, dry, split skin, redness, depigmentation, hair thinning, hair loss, brittle nails and fading of hair colour are all signs of protein nutrient deficiency.  Skin, hair and nails are majorly made up of proteins. Protein is known to give skin tissues its texture, durability, rigidity and structure. Moreover, it helps in keeping the skin hydrated and firm. It is an important part of hair and nails too. They are responsible for increasing hair thickness, quality and scalp coverage. Moreover, they help in strengthening nails thus preventing brittleness. (Healthy hair and skin foods)

7. Delayed growth:

Protein is vital for overall body growth and proper body functioning in kids especially during their growing phases. Therefore, it is of crucial importance to consume healthy proteins to ensure proper growth. Studies have shown that kids having low protein intake show impaired growth.

8. Lack of concentration:

In simple words, the brain uses a chemical to communicate information between cells. Most of these chemicals are made up of amino acids i.e., proteins. That means, when the body becomes deficient in proteins it would change how your brain works. It affects your mood, behaviour and concentration too.

9. Lack of muscle strength:

The simple logic behind this is, when your body lacks protein, it tends to draw it from the muscles (largest storage of protein) in order to preserve important body functions. This results in muscle wasting. Over a period of time, your child may feel a lack of muscle strength or find it harder to balance themselves.

10. Edema (Swollen/Puffy Skin):

This is a symptom of severe protein deficiency which causes swelling majorly on feet, ankle and legs. Acute protein deficiency may trap excess fluid in the tissues which results in swelling.  


Protein requirements in kids (or be it adults) depends on multiple factors such as age, weight, height, muscle mass, physical activities, genes. Generally speaking, the recommended daily allowance (RDA) of most people must be around 0.8 grams of protein per kg per day.


Firstly, educate yourself with the minimum daily requirements of protein for your child. Be aware of the signs and symptoms of protein nutrient deficiency which are mentioned above. Look for easy, quick and delicious ways to provide protein to your kids – Click here for recipes.  And even after this, if you’re not sure where to start, you can either talk to your pediatrician or you can speak here for free to a Nutritional Expert on board for general nutrition guidance.

Foods that are rich source of protein

  1. Easy source of Protein for Kids – Check here
  2. Best Nuts and Seeds for Protein – Check here
  3. 5 Seeds that are high in Protein – Check here


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Immunity, Gut health, Digestion, Weight, Brain development, Speech delay, Epilepsy, Eye health, Hormones, Sleep, Hyperactivity, Bones and Overall growth

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