The devastated family of a West Australian fitness model have warned about the dangers of protein supplements after they contributed to the young mother’s death.
Meegan Hefford, a 25-year-old mother-of two, was found unconscious in her Mandurah apartment and was pronounced dead days later.
Ms Hefford, who had been competing as a bodybuilder since 2014, was on a diet of protein shakes and eating protein-rich foods including lean meat and egg whites.
She was a body builder studying paramedicine and a mother to a seven-year-old daughter and a five-year-old son.
She was preparing for another bodybuilding competition but her mother, Michelle White, said Ms Hefford was having “way too much protein”.
Following her death, it was discovered Ms Hefford had a rare genetic disorder, which stopped her body from breaking down protein properly.
Urea Cycle Disorder affects one in 8000 people and caused a build up of ammonia in Ms Hefford’s blood and accumulation of fluid in her brain.
"There was just no way of knowing she had it because they don't routinely test for it,” Ms White said.
"There's medical advice on the back of all the supplements to seek out a doctor but how many young people actually do?"
Ms White didn’t realise her daughter was on protein supplements until after her death when she found containers in her kitchen along with a diet plan.
She is now calling on protein supplements to be more regulated.
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The Australian Medical Association says for the vast majority of people these supplements aren't necessary, and there's no real health benefit, but for most they're not dangerous either.
Doctors say a balanced diet is all you need.
Ms White hopes her daughter’s story will serve as a warning, and help save many more.