The alarming state of protein deficiency in India, the consequences and causes behind it.

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Rohit Jadhav Founder - M2PROTEINS

73% Of Indians Are Protein Deficient

A recent survey titled “Protein Consumption in Diet of Adult Indians: A General Consumer Survey (PRODIGY)” indicates that 9 out of 10 people consume inadequate amounts of protein in India. Another report shows that 73% of Indians are deficient in protein and more than 90% of people are unaware of daily protein requirements.

More seriously, more than 90% of pregnant and lactating women are unaware of the ideal protein requirements during this phase, protein deficiency during such phases can result in impaired growth in children or even in the loss of pregnancy and poor maternal health(1).

About 71% of Indians have poor muscle mass and health. Poor muscle mass leads to muscle fatigue, impaired metabolism, and impaired muscle function.

Protein Deficiency In Indians

73% of Indians are deficient in proteins

As per the survey, about 91% of vegetarians and 85% of non-vegetarians are protein deficient.

The majority of people from rural areas and lower economic backgrounds are protein deficient.

The lack of awareness, typical Indian nutrition, and misconceptions about protein has led to the majority of people being protein deficient.

Protein is one of the important macro-nutrient that we need daily. The majority of hormones, antibodies, neurotransmitters, cells, enzymes, and structural components of our body are made up of proteins.

Effects of protein deficiency

Proteins carry out numerous functions and we need them for the proper functioning of our body. Protein deficiency affects our overall well-being and optimum functioning of our body. Protein deficiency can lead to effects such as


  • Poor muscle health
  • Low muscle mass
  • Muscle weakness
  • Greater risk of infections and lower immunity
  • Higher risk of bone fractures
  • Adverse effects on skin, nails, and hair
  • Low energy and fatigue
  • Impaired growth in children
  • Reduced body weight
  • The lower number of cells in tissue and organs

Reasons behind protein deficiency

India boasts such a diverse range of crops and cuisines, a subsidized food program and we are still protein deficient, why? Here are some reasons,

  1. Diet : So why such an enormous number of the Indian population is protein deficient? I guess it mainly has to do with our diet. The majority of the Indian population is vegetarian and cereal being a prominent part of it. In India majority of protein, about 60% is obtained from a cereal-based diet, which has poor digestibility and lower quality. The majority of the population is focused on a carbohydrate and fat rich diet only.A small percentage of the population consume non-vegetarian food only a few times a week. The rural population and the economical status of people also make it hard to have access to a protein-rich diet. The lower economic status of people makes it hard for them to have access to protein rich food sources such as milk, eggs, pulses, nuts, fish, and meat. People living in urban areas consume a higher amount of milk and milk products as compared to people living in rural areas or slums. (2)Also oftentimes, our daily lifestyle, several diet restrictions, busy schedules make it burdensome for us to prepare a proper meal which makes us resort to a low nutritional fast food further contributing to lower nutritional levels.Also, the subsidized food is primarily cereal-based, also food sources that were previously identified as a good source of protein are now deemed to be poor. Our government is working on subsidizing pulses as well, which are a better source of proteins than cereals.
  2. Lack of knowledge-:The other important factor is lack of knowledge. As pointed out before about 91% of the Indian population is not aware of the daily protein requirements. Which makes it hard to take action since we are not aware that the problem exists. Also people in rural and even urban areas do not have access to information, proper guidance, and course of action for our nutrition and food, making it hard to know what to consume to fulfill daily nutritional requirements.
  3. Myths about protein : There are plenty of good protein sources and supplements that exist in the market which can help us to fulfill our daily protein intake easily. But myths like, protein cause weight gain, kidney damage, kidney stones, it is only for bodybuilding, or men stop us from using them as a part of our daily nutrition. It would help the general population greatly if companies who manufacture them also tried to spread the correct knowledge and information.
    Since now we know the nature of the problem, we can take action. We can start by making ourselves aware of our daily nutritional needs, learning about various food sources that can help us get our daily nutrition, and then we can use those sources as part of our daily diet.Becoming aware of our nutritional needs, learning about them, and implementing the ideas can help us to achieve a better nutritional level.

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References for above article

  1. Impacts of maternal dietary protein intake on fetal survival, growth, and development Cassandra M Herring,1 Fuller W Bazer,1 Gregory A Johnson,2 and Guoyao Wu1
  2. Protein intakes in India Sumathi Swaminathan*, Mario Vaz and Anura V. Kurpad

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