The family of an Australian mom and bodybuilder is blaming her sudden death on the consumption of protein powder and supplements.
Meegan Hefford, 25, was found unconscious in her apartment on June 19. She died in the hospital a few days later after doctors declared her brain dead, 7 News reports.
Following Hefford’s death it was discovered that the mom of two had been on a high-protein diet, consisting of lean meat, egg whites and protein shakes. Her family said Hefford, who had been in bodybuilding competitions since 2014, was preparing for another show in September.
Doctors also discovered that the mom of two suffered from a rare genetic disorder called Urea Cycle Disorder. According to the National Urea Cycle Disorders Foundation, the disorder causes an enzyme deficiency which prevents the body’s ability to break down protein.
Perth Sunday Times reports that the disorder also causes fluid buildup in the brain.
Hefford’s mom, Michelle White, said she didn’t find out about her daughter’s high-protein diet until after her death when she discovered several containers of protein powder in Hefford’s kitchen.
White told Perth Times that shortly before Hefford was found unconscious she had been complaining of feeling “weird” and lethargic.
White said she urged her daughter to slow down on the excessive workouts.
“I couldn’t believe what the doctors were telling me, she was dying. I said, ‘You have to give her more time,’ because she didn’t look sick, she looked beautiful.”
According to the outlet, Hefford’s cause of death is listed as “intake of bodybuilding supplements” and Urea Cycle Disorder.
White said she hoped Hefford’s death would push for stricter regulations of protein supplements.
“I know there are people other than Meegan who have ended up in hospital because they’ve overloaded on supplements,” she told the outlet. “The sale of those products needs to be more regulated.”
The Australian Medical Association said there’s no real health benefit in consuming protein powders and supplements, but also said they’re not dangerous for most people.