CHARLOTTE, N.C. - A 25-year-old mother of two has died from a reported ‘protein overdose’. Her family says she had been taking supplements and shakes daily to prepare for a bodybuilding competition.
Meegan Hefford’s family told Australian media they found half a dozen different containers of protein supplements in her kitchen.
Doctors believe that’s what ultimately lead to her death.
It was later discovered that Hefford had a rare genetic condition called Urea Cycle Disorder.
The protein products she consumed several times per day were killing her.
“Her body just basically didn’t break down urea, the nitrogenous compound from protein,” said Basheerah Enahora, registered dietician and nutritionist with BE Nutrition in Charlotte.
She added most people don’t have to worry about that particular disorder, but says there is still a lesson to be learned for anyone who takes supplements.
“When you're out buying supplements you may be doing more harm than good,” she said. “This idea that we need to go high-protein, high-protein, high-protein, just isn't true.”
“Supplements are, as the word says, it should be a supplement to a good dietary pattern.”
She says while some products can help certain people, everyone should research them thoroughly before buying.
“It's important for people to understand that the supplement industry is not regulated,” Enahora said. “Make sure that what the company claims is in the product is actually what's in the product because there's no oversight.”
She also says protein supplements are too-often marketed and perceived as a quick or healthy fix.
“We think there's like this magic answer that if we just had this one thing that's what's going to make the biggest difference for us, and it's not.”
Time magazine also released an article debating protein powders. Experts concurred that while shakes and supplements can be beneficial, they don’t contain all the nutrients your body gets from lean meat, which is the safer and healthier choice.