Q:

What happens if you don't eat enough protein?

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Quick Answer

If you don't eat enough protein over a long period of time, you're susceptible to reduced bone density, increased rates of bone loss, and a decrease in the absorption of intestinal calcium, according to The Journal of Nutrition. The amount of protein needed in the diet changes with age and varies by gender, and getting enough in the diet is important to maintain healthy bones and muscles.

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Protein also plays a large role in repairing cells and creating new ones, according to MedlinePlus. Especially important for growth and development during childhood, adolescence and pregnancy, protein is a building block of life and is found in meat, milk, fish and eggs as well as plant sources, such as nuts, beans, legumes and grains.

Babies need the least amount of protein with just 10 grams a day while teenage boys require 52 grams, and teenage girls require 46 grams per day, according to WebMD. Adult men require 56 grams per day and adult women require 46 grams of protein per day. Additionally, WebMD recommends that proteins make up at least 10 percent of calories consumed in a day and no more than 35 percent of all calories.

While a low protein diet can cause problems, a high protein diet also has negative effects, such as high cholesterol, strain on the kidneys and increased susceptibility to other diseases, such as gout, according to MedlinePlus.

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    Too much calcium often causes mild side effects, such as belching and gas, according to WebMD. In severe cases of calcium overdose, a call to a poison control center or an emergency room visit is required, according to MedlinePlus, a service of the National Library of Medicine. Calcium is a non-toxic substance, so recovery from a calcium overdose is considered likely.

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