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ASK THE DOCTORs
How to safely increase levels of protein in your diet

Dear Doctor: I recently read about a woman who died from a protein overdose. Is it really possible to have too much protein? How much are we supposed to be eating?

Dear Reader: We remember the news story you're referring to as it caused quite a stir. A bodybuilder from Australia, who had put herself on a high-protein diet in order to prepare for a competition, was found unconscious in her home. She passed away two days later.

Although the cause of death was listed as "intake of bodybuilding supplements," the story is actually more complicated. An autopsy revealed that the woman had a rare genetic condition that made it impossible for her body to efficiently digest protein. Known as urea cycle disorder, it's a deficiency in one of the enzymes in the liver that scrubs the blood of nitrogen, a waste product of protein metabolism.

When the urea cycle is functioning properly, nitrogen is removed from the blood, converted to urea, and transferred to the urine for elimination. But in individuals with urea cycle disorder, the nitrogen accumulates in the tissues in the form of ammonia, which is extremely toxic. Ammonia is carried through the blood to the brain, where irreparable damage can occur.

Though there is no cure at this time, the condition can be managed through diet and various medications and supplements. In the case of the bodybuilder, her disorder was undiagnosed. It had been mild enough that, when she ate normally, she didn't have any serious problems. However, when she upped her protein intake to prepare for the competition, she inadvertently pushed her body beyond the limits of what it could manage. As a result, the ammonia in her blood reached fatal levels.

When it comes to recommendations on how much protein we should eat, there is a bit of debate. According the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) in the United States, it's 0.8 gram of protein for every kilogram of weight. And for us in the non-metric U.S., that's 0.36 grams of protein per pound of weight. Age and activity level play a part as well. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has a nifty online calculator: www.nal.usda.gov/fnic/interactiveDRI/.

Most of us who eat a balanced diet will have no problem meeting the RDA for protein. For very active individuals, elite athletes, or those working to lose weight or build muscle, more protein may be advisable. On the other side of the spectrum, people living with kidney disease must take care not to eat too much protein. A high-protein diet can impair kidney function due to the increase in waste products from protein metabolism.

Some nutrition researchers believe the RDA for protein should be increased to slightly more than the current recommendations. Until that debate gets resolved, the RDA is our best guide. For anyone who wants to increase his or her protein intake, we recommend consulting with a nutritionist or sports medicine specialist for information and guidance.


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Screenings

Free blood pressure screenings, 9:30-11 a.m. Wednesdays at Countryside Senior Living, front lobby. No appointment necessary.

Programs/Self-Help Groups

Al-Anon Information Center, call 712-255-6724.

Al-Anon and Alateen, meetings locally. For times, dates and locations of area meetings, call 712-255-6724.

Alcoholics Anonymous, beginners information, call 712-252-1333.

Arc of Woodbury County, serving the mentally challenged, 5:15 p.m. meeting, second Monday of the month at Mid-Step Services, 4303 Stone Ave. For families and interested persons.

Child Care Resource and Referral, provides resources, education and advocacy for children, parents, and child care providers. Assists in child care needs. For more information, call 712-277-1180.

Co-Dependence Anonymous, 7 p.m. Mondays and Thursdays at First Lutheran Church, Fireside Room.

Co-Dependents Anonymous (CODA), 10 a.m. Saturdays at Hawkeye Club, 420 Jones St.

Compassionate Friends, 7 p.m. fourth Wednesday of each month (third Thursday in November and second Sunday December) in Mercy Medical Center's Leiter Room. For families who have lost children. Contact Nancy Webb 712-212-4032 or Don Mulder 712-541-5512.

Clinics

Siouxland District Health immunization clinics, call for appointment, 712-279-6119 or 1-800-587-3005.

Information

Family and Addictive Illness series, for more information, call 234-2300.

Iowa Fathers, 6 to 8 p.m. fourth Tuesday of each month at Hope Lutheran Church, Education Building, 218 W. 18th St., South Sioux City, Neb. Support group to help single, divorcing and divorced parents residing in the state of Iowa.

Mercy Pathways Outpatient Program, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, on the third floor, Mercy's Central Medical Building, 801 Fifth St., Suite 360. Provides hope, help, opportunity to connect through group therapy for individuals experiencing personal, relationship, psychiatric issues. For more information, call 712-279-5991.

Narcotics Anonymous, meetings daily, various times, dates and locations. For more information, call 712-279-0733.

Overeaters Anonymous, 1 p.m. Tuesdays at Wesley United Methodist Church, 3700 Indian Hills Drive; 6 p.m. Tuesdays at St. John's Lutheran Church, 402 Lane Ave., Storm Lake; 7 p.m. Tuesdays at Church of the Nazarene, 226 N. Main St., Viborg, S.D.; 5:30 p.m. Thursdays and 9 a.m. Saturdays at Newman Center, 320 E. Cherry St., Vermillion, S.D.; 10:30 a.m. Saturdays at Hawkeye Club, 420 Jones St. A 12-step recovery program for people who have problems with food and weight. No fees.

St. Luke’s Outpatient Behavioral Health Program, 9 a.m. to noon Monday, Tuesday and Thursday on fifth floor of St. Luke's, located at 2720 Stone Park Blvd. Offers several levels of outpatient care including partial hospitalization, intensive outpatient, and group therapy. This program provides support and integrated treatment to individuals experiencing personal or relationship issues as a result of their mental illness. For more information and admission criteria, call 712-279-3906.

Sobriety By Faith, 8:30 a.m. Saturdays at Mt. Zion Missionary Baptist Church, 1421 Geneva St. For more information, call James Mothershead at 712-577-9715.

The Link-Recovery and Freedom, 1603 Glen Ellen Road; 9:30 to 10:30 a.m. Saturday workshop, and Christian 12-step meeting 7 to 8 p.m. Tuesday. For all ages. Call Dee at 389-7432.

Tarahouse Meditation Center, 8 a.m. Mondays through Thursdays; 6:30 p.m. Fridays; 10 a.m. Saturdays and Sundays, all at 3112 Rebecca St. Three easy 10-minute sessions in small group; beginners welcome. For more information, call 490-6410.

Blood pressure and blood sugar screening, 9 to 11 a.m. Wednesdays in the lobby at Westwood Nursing and Rehabilitation Center. Free to public.

Support Groups

Food Addicts in Recovery Anonymous, 7-8:30 p.m. Wednesdays at Hawkeye Club basement, 420 Jones St. For more information, call 277-5935.

Celebrate Recovery, Bible-based 12-step recovery group. Thursdays at 6 p.m. at Sunnybrook Community Church, 5601 Sunnybrook Drive. Childcare provided. 712-490-3343. All welcome. 

PFLAG of Siouxland, (Parents & Friends of Lesbians and Gays), 7 p.m., fourth Monday of January, March, May, July, September and November. St. Mark ELCA Church, 5200 Glenn Ave., in the upstairs meeting area. 712-258-3116.

Singles widowed and divorced, all ages, 4 p.m., Sundays. McDonald's at Sixth Street and Lewis Boulevard. 712-252-2675. 

GriefShare, 6:30 -8:30 p.m. every Tuesday until Dec. 6 at Sunnybrook Community Church, 5601 Sunnybrook Drive, Sioux City. 712-276-5814.

H.E.L.P. Ministries, spiritual NA support group, "Sunday on Saturday" service 6-8 p.m every Saturday at 513 Main St., Sioux City. Donald, 712-574-1744. 

HIV/AIDS Support Group, meets weekly. For more information, call Darla or Teri at Siouxland Community Health Center, 712-252-2477 or 888-371-1965.

Hospice of Siouxland, seeking volunteers. For more information, call 712-233-4144 and ask for a volunteer coordinator. 

La Leche League of Siouxland, breastfeeding support group meets every third Thursday at 11 a.m. at Morningside Lutheran Church. Children are welcome. For more information, call Mary at 712-546-7280 or Jacquie at 712-255-2998.

Living Each Day Cancer Support Group, 7-8 p.m. second Thursday of the month, Floyd Valley Hospital, Conference Center Room 2, Le Mars, Iowa. Open to all cancer patients, cancer survivors and family members. No charge. Pre-register by calling 712-546-3441 or 800-642-6074, ext. 441.

Mom and Baby Support Group, 10-11 a.m. last Monday of the month at the Orange City (Iowa) Hospital, lower level. For new moms and babies. 712-737-5260.

Tri-State Sober Project, 12-step meeting, 7:30-8:30 p.m., Tuesdays, Friendship Community Church, 305 Sergeant Square Drive, Sergeant Bluff. 6-7 p.m., Thursdays, Transitional Services of Iowa, 1221 Pierce St., Sioux City.

Doug's Donors Support Group, information for organ donors and recipients, 12:30-1:30 p.m. Fridays, 5:15-6:30 p.m. second Thursdays of the month at Mercy Cafeteria Woodbury Room. 712-277-1050.

Divorce Care, 6:30 -8:30 p.m. every Tuesday until Dec. 6 at Sunnybrook Community Church, 5601 Sunnybrook Drive, Sioux City. 712-276-5814.

NAMI Siouxland, (National Alliance on Mental Illness) Support Group meets 6:30 p.m., second Tuesday of the month at Friendship House, 1101 Court St. For individuals and family members dealing with mental illness. 712-255-4209. 

Orphan Sunday, 3:30-5 p.m. Sunday at Sunnybrook Community Church loft, 5601 Sunnybrook Drive. 

Post Polio Support Group, 11 a.m. first Thursday of the month at Perkins Restaurant by Menards. 712-490-8213.

Relationship Support Group, 7 p.m. Fridays at Marketplace Mall. For more information, call 239-3129.

Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence, Individual and Support Groups. For more information, call CSADV in Sioux City at 712-258-7233; Plymouth County at 712-546-6764; Monona County at 712-423-3443. Advocacy and support available 24 hours a day at 1-800-982-7233. All services free of charge and confidential.

Sickle Cell Disease Support Group, 11 a.m. third Saturday of each month at St. Luke's Hospital, meeting room 1. For patients, their family and any concerned member. Call La'Keshia Rainey at 712-203-2019 for more information.

Single and Parenting, 6:30 -8:30 p.m. every Tuesday until Dec. 6 at Sunnybrook Community Church, 5601 Sunnybrook Drive, Sioux City. 712-276-5814.

Sioux City Association of the Deaf, 7 p.m. third Saturday of the month at Morningside Church of Christ, 5015 Garretson Ave. Regular meeting, September-May; no meeting, June, July, August and December.

Siouxland Autism Support Group, second Thursday of the month at Northwest Area Education Agency, 1520 Morningside Ave. For more information, call Julie Case at 712-490-8939.

Siouxland Epilepsy Support Group, 5 p.m. third Tuesday of the month at Prestwick Apartment Clubhouse, 4230 Hickory Lane. For anyone diagnosed with seizures or epilepsy and family or friends. For more information, call Steve at 274-6927.

Siouxland IC support group, meets quarterly in Sioux City. For patients struggling with interstital cystitis. For more information, call Jacque Dundas 316-641-9766.

Siouxland Informational Group for the Blind, 2-5 p.m. second Tuesday of the month at Northern Hills Retirement Community, 4002 Teton Trace. For more information, call 712-266-8926 or 258-8151.

Grief support group, 5:30-7:30 p.m., beginning Oct. 5 for 13 weeks (may join at any time), Crescent Park United Methodist Church, 2826 Myrtle St., Sioux City. Scott, 712-899-6315.

Siouxland Ostomy Association, 2 p.m. first Sunday of each month (except September, which will be second Sunday; and no meetings June, July, August), in Room 300 at Mercy Medical Center, 801 Fifth St. For more information, call Dick Lindblom at 251-2453.

Siouxland Parkinson Disease Support Group, 1 p.m. fourth Monday of the month at Siouxland Center for Active Generations, 313 Cook St. For more information, call Sally Reinert at 402-987-3516. 

South Sioux City Weight Support Group, 8:30 a.m. Wednesdays at St. Paul United Methodist Church, South Sioux City. For more information, call 494-1401 or 494-2133.

Disabilities Resource Center of Siouxland, 520 Nebraska St., Suite 101: Women's Support Group, 1:30 p.m. first Wednesday of the month; LGBT Support Group, 1:30 p.m. first Friday of the month; Adult ADHD, 6 p.m. second Tuesday of the month; Advocacy Group, 1:30 p.m. third Tuesday of the month. For more information, call 712-255-1065.

Take Off Pounds Sensibly, group meetings various times, days and locations in Siouxland. For information on the chapter in your area, call 1-800-932-TOPS.

Voice Disorder Support Group, meets as needed at Mercy Medical Center, Buena Vista Room. 712-279-2686.

Women's Peer Support Group, in Wayne and South Sioux City, Neb., for those who have experienced domestic abuse. For more information, call the Wayne office at 402-375-4633 or 1-800-440-4633; in South Sioux City, call 402-494-7592. Help and support available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Services free and confidential.

Woodbury County D.M.D.A., noon-2 p.m. first Saturday of the month at Country Friendship Acres, 4501 West St.; 7-8 p.m. first Tuesday of the month at 515 Court St. in the Community Room; 7-8 p.m. second Tuesday of the month at 441 W. Third St. in the Community Room; 7-8 p.m. third Tuesday of the month at 409 W. Third St. in the Community Room. Support group for people with disabilities and mental disorders.

Natural Mamas in Siouxland, 1 p.m., third Tuesday of each month in the Garretson room of the Morningside Public Library. All ages of children are welcome to come with moms. For sharing natural living tips, recipes, natural remedies and health, homemaking, mothering, etc. For more information, call 402-913-0038 or visit their Facebook page.

Divorce care, 5 p.m., Sundays. Fireside room, Morningside Lutheran Church, 700 South Martha St.

Gamblers Anonymous meetings, 4 p.m. Thursdays at Immanuel Lutheran Church, 315 Hamilton Blvd.; 7 p.m. Wednesdays, Morningside Presbyterian Church, 4327 Morningside Ave.; 7 p.m. Tuesdays, St. John Lutheran Church; 7 p.m. Sundays, Hawkeye Club, 420 Jones St.. 712-277-2901.

Art therapy support group, 5:30 p.m. second Wednesday of the month at the June E. Nylen Cancer Center. Registration required, call 252-9370 or email legrees@jencc.com.

After Breast Cancer Support Group, 5:30 p.m. third Tuesday of the month at the June E. Nylen Cancer Center. To sign up, call Sue LeGree, 252-9370 or email legrees@jencc.com.

After Prostate Cancer Support Group, 5:15 p.m. first Tuesday of the month at the June E. Nylen Cancer Center. To sign up, call Sue LeGree, 252-9370 or email legrees@jencc.com.

Alzheimer's Association, Big Sioux Chapter Support Group, 2 p.m. second Tuesday of the month; 4 p.m. third Tuesday of the month (under age 65) at 201 Pierce St., Suite 110 (Famous Dave's building); and 6 p.m. first Tuesday of the month at the Barnes and Noble Cafe. For more information, call Emily Lord at 712-279-5802.

Chronic Pain/Chronic Illness Support Group, 7:30 p.m. fourth Wednesday of the month in the lower level of the Orange City Hospital. For more information, call 712-737-5260.

Connections Area Agency on Aging, and Mercy Medical Center’s Older Adult Services Welcome to Medicare, 1:30-4 p.m., the first Friday of every month at Connections Area Agency on Aging, 2301 Pierce St. To pre-register, or for more information, contact Connections Area Agency on Aging at 712-279-6900.

LIVESTRONG Program at the YMCA, this is a free personalized fitness program for cancer survivors that meet at the Norm Waitt Sr. YMCA. For more information call Sue LeGree at 252-9370 or email legrees@jencc.com.

Look Good, Feel Better, held the first Monday of every month. Free program dedicated to improving the self-esteem of women undergoing cancer treatment. To sign up, call Sue LeGree, 252-9370 or email legrees@jencc.com.

CLIMB (Childrens Lives Include Moments of Bravery), For children ages 5 to 13 whose parents or other close family members are diagnosed with cancer.  Includes support for the child and parents (or support person) from 5:30 to 7 p.m. with dinner provided. Call for dates to Krista McCullough at 712-252-9421.

Family Support Group, this support group is designed for patients and their families who are dealing with any cancer diagnosis. Contact Sue LeGree at legrees@jencc.com or call her at 712-252-9370 for dates and times of meetings.

One on One Caregivers Support Group, emotional and spiritaul support offered for the caregivers with one on one meeting times. Contact Sue LeGree at legrees@jencc.com or call her at 712-252-9370 for information or appointment.

One on One Support for Cancer Survivors, meet with a chaplain, dietitian or patient advocate to discuss spiritual, nutritional or emotional needs. Contact Sue LeGree at legrees@jencc.com or call her at 712-252-9370 for information.