Protein plays a crucial role in the human body, and we often eat it in generous portions. Carbohydrates and fats are another story. In general, modern modes of eating monitor those macronutrients fairly closely. Protein, though, can seemingly be eaten with reckless abandon. Rarely do you ever hear of someone feeling the negative consequences of eating egg whites or a boneless, skinless chicken breast. Whether you’re trying to lose fat, build muscle, or just feel well in general, people will recommend protein to you. Unfortunately, not everyone’s body handles it in the same fashion. Recently, a 25-year-old woman died from a protein overdose.
According to Perth Now, Meegan Hefford, from a city in Western Australia called Mandurah, led an incredibly healthy lifestyle. One peek at her Instagram account shows you that she lived, ate, and breathed the fitness lifestyle. As any person interested in weightlifting and fitness knows, protein is a key component in building one’s body.
That said, Hefford ate plenty of foods rich in the stuff. Like many other people, she also consumed protein shakes. Unbeknownst to her, though, her body didn’t process protein the way most peoples’ bodies do.
Hefford suffered from urea cycle disorder. Urea cycle disorder is identified by a lack of enzymes in the body. These enzymes, in most people, help handle protein as it passes through the digestive cycle. Just one in 8,000 people suffer from urea cycle disorder. Hefford’s death was caused by a build-up of ammonia in her bloodstream. Eventually, it poisoned her brain, ending her life.
Hefford is survived by her two children. Her heart, lungs, and kidneys have saved four peoples’ lives. While her family is happy that her organs could help, they’re not happy with the circumstances leading up to her death.
They’re looking for stricter regulations on the supplement industry, a stance that may be hard to gain traction behind. While Hefford’s story is tragic, the supplement industry is bigger than it ever has been and would take a lot of force to slow down.
This post was originally published on June 18, 2018.