Animals, Plants and Human beings require nitrogen for survival; this is an element that is used in several crucial biochemical and metabolic processes in the human body. For example, nitrogen is converted to nitrates, which are important for cellular growth and development and also in the synthesis of proteins.
Both vegetarian and non-vegetarian diets require foods that have enough nitrogen levels. When you look at the vegetarian diet, there is more carbon being ingested than there is of nitrogen; the non-vegetarian diet consists of more nitrogen products and fewer carbon products. This is a crucial element for a healthy life.
When it comes to the formation of body proteins, the important of nitrogen cannot be understated. Chemicals and hormones synthesized in the body have very high levels of nitrogen. These chemicals and hormones are required for cellular and metabolic functions and regulation. Three percent of the human body is made of nitrogen. The nitrogen used is derived from the food that people eat. Nitrogen is also crucial during pregnancy for best formation of the fetus. Nitrogen is also crucial in the formation of amino acids and is actually the one that ensures structural integrity of amino acids. In this way, amino acids can then act in their proper way.
Symptoms of Nitrogen Deficiency
Nitrogen deficiency in human beings will manifest in the same way as protein deficiency. This is because the proteins synthesized by the body are made from amino acids which require nitrogen. Without enough nitrogen, you will get symptoms that look like those of kwashiorkor. These are:
- Reduction in muscle mass and failure to grow normally and gain weight as expected
- Rashes on the skin, and change in the color of the skin
- There will be general malaise and fatigue
- The patient will have a large and protruding belly
- There will be a general feeling of apathy, irritability and also lethargy
- Several parts of the body will start swelling and developing edema
- The immune system will be suppressed and the patient will be susceptible to some severe infections
- There will be hair loss and the hair will also get a brittle structure
- There will be poor healing of wounds since the body does not have enough protein to build tissues for the healing
When the doctor examines the patient suffering from nitrogen deficiency, he may find an enlargement of the liver, or general swelling of some parts of it. There are several tests which can be used in the detection of nitrogen deficiency in patients, such as the use of Serum Creatinine, the analysis of arterial gas and measurements of the total protein levels in the blood. Nitrogen deficiency can bring about severe complications which can lead to permanent mental and physical shock or damage; this should be treated as a serious element and people should enough levels.
The causes of nitrogen deficiency can be placed in two categories. The first is that the patient is not getting enough food in order to get nitrogen from the digestive derivatives. This happens in situations of extreme famine or poverty. In the second category, the patient is eating enough food to get full, but is not eating foods that have enough proteins to maintain proper nitrogen levels. Once again, this can happen in cases of extreme poverty, where the family relies on carbohydrates primarily to ward off starvation.
Treatment of Nitrogen Deficiency
The treatment of nitrogen deficiency follows certain protocols, which will depend on the severity of the condition. It will depend on whether normal blood volume can be restored and normal pressure. The protocol is as follow:
The first thing if to increase the intake of calories provided through the ingestion of fats, simple sugars and carbohydrates. Once the body has started metabolizing these nutrients for energy production, proteins should now be given in increasing amounts.
The patient should also have mineral and vitamin supplements, since the deficiency in nitrogen could have interfered with how the intestine is able to absorb other nutrients.
The patient should be asked to eat slowly, preferably in small amounts, so the underlying malnutrition can be properly treated, and hence the nitrogen deficiency. At later stages, the patient should have foods that are high in protein levels. It is great to adopt a non-vegetarian diet which is rich in proteins and nitrogen. The patient can also have legumes, cereals and pulses which are also high in protein and nitrogen.
Basically nutrition and supplementation are the only ways to treat nitrogen deficiency since it is derived from proteins. This is a serious problem and should be taken seriously. It is best to watch your diet and ensure that you have the required nitrogen amounts in your diet.