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Signs of Protein Malabsorption

Signs of protein malabsorption

Signs of protein malabsorption

Hey there, have you ever stopped to think about how your body is processing the proteins you eat? It's not something we often consider, but it's crucial for our overall health. For some people, poor protein digestion can lead to some significant symptoms and issues.

Dealing with bloating, fatigue, or loss of skin elasticity? It could be more than just a stomach problem. Consider checking if you're getting the most out of your protein or experiencing protein malabsorption. After all, a little self-awareness can go a long way when it comes to improving our health and wellbeing.

If you have symptoms like hair loss, weak bones and muscles, gas, bloating, and fatigue, you might be dealing with protein malabsorption. It makes it difficult for your body to digest animal proteins, resulting in unpleasant side effects.

Importance of Protein

If you're looking to build strength and muscle, the secret is protein. Carbs fuel our bodies, while protein mends tissue damage caused by exercise or daily wear-and-tear. However, that’s not that they’re only good for.

Protein is essential for a variety of things, including:

  • Helping us produce hormones such as insulin or progesterone.
  • It’s vital for cellular repair.
  • It takes part in oxygen transport by forming hemoglobin, a blood protein that ushers oxygen to our cells.
  • It takes part in the creation of proteins that help bind and transport nutrients, as well as mitigate metals such as transferrin, ceruloplasmin or metallothionine.
  • As most people recognize it for, it is vital for our physical structure including muscle, bone, hair, skin, cartilage and nails.
  • Proteins are also recognized for their role in RNA and DNA in the nuclei of our cells, responsible for the genetic code.
  • Proteins are what make enzymes, which are the reactions into trigger chemical reactions to occur in the body. 
  • They are required as a source of fuel, for protein can be converted into glucose or fat- despite it not being ideal. The body prefers carbs.

The Misconception about Plant-Based Diets

It's time to set the record straight on protein malabsorption. Blaming genetics and going vegan might seem tempting, but relying solely on plant protein isn't as simple or effective as getting it from animals. Before you give up steak and chicken, remember that protein is crucial. Sometimes, sticking with what works is the way to go.

When it comes to protein intake, it seems as though animal proteins have the upper hand. Humans can absorb up to 50% of the amino acids found in animal proteins when cooked. This is why those who follow a plant-based diet need to consume more protein in order to maintain their strength and vitality. 

Understanding Protein Malabsorption and its Causes

Let's jump back to the main topic - protein malabsorption. Some of you might be wondering: how does one even develop protein malabsorption? Well, that's a great question. While there isn't one specific answer, all the answers are interconnected.

Stomach Acidity

Did you know that stomach acidity is not just important for digesting food but also protects us from dangerous bacteria? You heard that right. Our stomach relies on a mix of sodium, zinc, and chloride to create stomach acid that can neutralize anything we ingest. Then it goes to work breaking down and assimilating proteins.

Yep, stomach acid is key for unlocking amino acids — those building blocks that give us luscious hair, youthful skin, and strong muscles and bones. If our acidity levels fall short, food can ferment and create a hotbed for nasty bacteria that are definitely not our best pals.

Inability to Synthesize Pepsin

Maybe you just don't produce enough of a key enzyme called pepsin. It's the one that helps break down protein. But if your pancreas doesn't make enough of it, things can get rough. It's like trying to build a car without any wheels - you just can't do it! If you're feeling slow and lacking protein, don't blame your diet – it might just be your body's inability to produce the necessary enzymes.


It's time we talk about the real enemy in our lives: stress. That's right, stress can make us feel like we're walking on thin ice, constantly fighting to keep our heads above water. And if you struggle with regulating your nervous system, that can be a recipe for disaster. There might be times when your body freaks out, telling you it's not safe to digest food and needs to focus on keeping you alive. It can bring your energy levels down and leave you feeling drained. 


When it comes to digestive health, we often resort to medication or vices to ease discomfort from stomach acidity. Whether it's taking an antacid after a spicy meal or relying on a drink to digest dinner, these methods can give temporary relief.

This also includes cigarettes, H2 blockers or proton pump inhibitors will all reduce stomach acidity.  However, it's important to remember that relying on these solutions too often can have long-term consequences. We can easily find natural ways to keep our digestive system healthy, without relying on artificial aids.

Excessive Amount of Liquid

Did you know that drinking excessive amounts of liquid can actually dilute your stomach acidity? Drinking beverages during meals can cause digestion issues and hinder nutrient absorption. It's best to avoid doing this. Instead, try to drink water 30 minutes before or after your meal to ensure that your body is able to properly break down the nutrients in your food.

Nutrient Deficiencies

Good nutrition is essential for a healthy and happy life, but sometimes that's easier said than done. Did you know that a hair tissue mineral analysis (HTMA) can detect nutrient deficiencies like sodium, zinc, and phosphorus? It's a great way to uncover the root cause of your problems, especially if you're dealing with protein malabsorption.

By understanding what nutrients your body is lacking, you can make informed decisions about what to eat and ensure you are getting the right balance of vital nutrients. 

Understanding Mineral Indicators

Minerals: without them, our bodies would cease to function properly. Our body relies on minerals for vital processes like enzymes and hormones. They affect everything from how we think to how we feel!

Getting the right balance of minerals is crucial. An imbalance can lead to discomfort and impaired bodily functions. Let's explore why sodium, zinc, phosphorus, and cobalt are important for maintaining good stomach acidity levels.


Sodium is one key mineral that helps produce stomach acidity. Stomach acid, also recognized as hydrochloric acid (HCL contains chloride. Chloride is typically found in salt, and along with sodium, both help to neutralize things in the stomach.

Salt has been long touted as a potent antifungal, antibacterial and anti histamine, hence the dependency of it to form HCL to keep the stomach clear of pathogens. When looking on a hair test, having low levels of sodium can indicate low levels of stomach acidity and extreme stress on the body.

Having high levels of stress or chronic stress eventually signals to the body to reduce gastric enzymes and acid as a means to put more energy into more pertinent things like keeping you alive.


Zinc is another mineral the body requires to produce stomach acidity. While zinc doesn't take part in the formation of HCL per say, it helps with the enzymatic reaction in producing HCL. Just like with sodium, if zinc is low, one can acknowledge that HCL is low too in the body and resistant to digesting food properly.

Conversely, zinc is predominantly found in animal products, and it has been shown low protein diets, or rather diets low in animal products, can lead to low stomach acidity. 


Phosphorus, while not playing a role in stomach acidity, is a compound saturated in protein related foods. If we lack HCL or have an inability to synthesize proteins, our phosphorus levels will most likely be low. Phosphorus is vital for regulating the nervous system and ATP production. Without it, we become lethargic, weak and incapable of synthesizing energy.


Lastly, looking to the cobalt levels on an HTMA is another indicator of poor protein synthesis- especially if the cobalt level is low. Cobalt levels are indicative to our digestive capacity, and if low, is a sign of an inability to break down foods. It is not a mineral found on its own and is usually found in foods containing B12.

This is because cobalt is necessary for the absorption and making of cyanocobalamin or methylcobalamin, also known as forms of B12. You can see the word "cobalt" in the middle of the two.

Even though it doesn't play a role necessarily in formulating HCL, when looking at a hair test, it could be a sign of low stomach acidity for B12 is synthesized by stomach acid itself.


Understanding the importance of protein digestion and its impact on our overall health is crucial for maintaining optimal well-being. Protein malabsorption can lead to a range of symptoms and issues, affecting not only our digestion but also our energy levels, hair, skin, and muscle health.

It is essential to address the causes of protein malabsorption, such as stomach acidity, enzyme deficiencies, stress, medications, excessive liquid intake, and nutrient deficiencies.

If you're experiencing challenges with protein synthesis or suspect any mineral imbalances, we recommend running an HTMA.

By clicking here, you can schedule a consultation with one of our trusted nutritionists who will guide you through a personalized healing plan.

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