Meegan Hefford, a mother of two and competing bodybuilder, died after consuming too much protein, it was reported.
Hefford was found unconscious in her West Australia apartment and was quickly taken to the hospital.
She was declared brain-dead, and she died two days later.
Hefford had been competing as a professional bodybuilder since 2014, the New York Post reported.
Hefford put herself on a restricted diet as she was preparing for a competition next month and was consuming large quantities of protein shakes, supplements, and high-protein foods, Perth Now reported. According to News Ltd., she was also eating a significant number of egg whites.
It was reported that the cause of her death was ruled as an “intake of bodybuilding supplements” in addition to having a rare disorder—urea cycle disorder—which prevents the body from breaking down protein. The disorder affects 1 in 8,000 people, and it causes a buildup of ammonia in one’s brain. She apparently didn’t know she had the disorder.
“I said to her, ‘I think you’re doing too much at the gym, calm down, slow it down,'” her mother Michelle White recalled telling Hefford.
“I know there are people other than Meegan who have ended up in hospital because they’ve overloaded on supplements,” White was quoted by Perth Now as saying. “The sale of these products needs to be more regulated.”
“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,” the mother said, as reported by News Ltd.
“Losing Meegan, it’s so awful and I still can’t believe she’s gone but I have to focus on the positives that at least I had 25 years with her and she jammed so much into her life, it’s almost like she knew her time would be short,” she said.
According to Australian Medical Association WA President Dr. Omar Khorshid, people should stay with a balanced diet—rather than loading up on protein.
“I think the problem with the supplement industry is that it’s really designed to make money for the companies, which sell the products and not to provide any significant health benefit for the vast majority of people taking them,” he told Perth Now. “This case is obviously tragic and illustrates that you may not know you have a health issue that alters the way you metabolize.”