Human protein deficiency: results of a Nigerian village study.
In the effort to raise the protein content of their energy adequate diet from 25 or 50 grams to 100 grams daily a skimmed milk supplement was fed to lactating women in the rural Yoruba, Nigeria community of about 1500 people. As a result, the amount of milk secreted and the amount consumed by the child increased significantly. The children gained more weight, but there was no change in concentration of total milk secretion was a decrease in volume. Skimmed milk protein also fed as a supplement to subclinically malnourished children in the village resulted in an increased in growth rate, plasma amino acids, total body albumin, albumin and gamma globulin turnover and plasma levels of insulin and thyroid hormones. There was a decline in plasma level of cortisol, growth hormone and in total body water, particularly the extracellular compartment. The transition from subclinical malnutrition to kwashiorkor was found to be associated with a further severe decline in protein synthesis and turnover and in the activities of several plasma enzymes. The level of hormones in plasma and the concentration of total essential amino acids as well as the turnover of plasma proteins are useful early indicators of the relative adequacy of protein intake by human population groups.