Proteins are often referred to as the body’s “building blocks,” and for good reason. Protein is the second most prevalent substance present in the human body after water. Protein, the most important macronutrient, serves a variety of purposes in tissue development, maintenance, and repair. A protein is made up of amino acid linkages, and in addition to the ones already present in our bodies, we require more necessary proteins, which must be obtained from the food we consume. So, how crucial is protein to the health of our hair?
Well! It’s vital. Hair is largely composed of a protein called keratin, and protein promotes hair growth and nutrient absorption. Lack of protein can induce hair loss, exacerbate existing hair loss, and impair the effectiveness of hair loss treatments.
Hair Growth and Protein Deficiency
During mitosis, cells at the follicle’s base proliferate quickly, resulting in hair growth (a form of cell division). Mitotic activity generates cells, which in turn build the hair follicle and extend our hair. The fast creation of new cells required for hair growth, therefore, necessitates a large amount of protein. Disruption of these circumstances can harm the delicate physiological conditions required to promote healthy hair development. Hair strands are largely made up of the protein keratin, which is derived from dead keratinized cells (keratinocytes).
In the epidermis and all of its extensions, the hair is composed of 95 percent keratin, an elastic protein that is helicoidal in shape (like a helix) (body hair, nails, etc.).
Keratin is produced by keratinocytes and is water-insoluble, ensuring the hair’s impermeability and protection.
Hair contains 18 amino acids, including proline, threonine, leucine, and arginine. Because keratin has a high amount of cysteine (a sulfurated amino acid), it creates disulfide connections between molecules, giving the structure more stiffness and resilience.
Signs of hair loss from protein deficiency
Hair loss is one of the most worrisome symptoms for individuals who wish to keep their hair looking young and healthy. When the body isn’t getting enough protein, it quickly begins to save it for the important organs. When it comes to protein, one of your body’s top concerns is maintaining strong muscular tissue. If your body isn’t getting enough protein to keep your muscles functioning properly, your hair will begin to thin and fall out. Instead of being used to assist hair growth, the protein will be replenished and repaired in the body. Hair loss may increase two to three months after this has occurred, as dormant hairs finally start to fall out. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, hair loss can begin after two to three months of not obtaining enough protein (AAD). Is it possible that you’re experiencing hair loss or brittleness because of your new eating habits? Perhaps it’s time to reevaluate your protein consumption.
Elasticity test for hair
Wet a strand of your hair with water and place it in your mouth. Now gently stretch it out of the way and depart immediately. If your hair strand bounces back to its normal length after being combed, it has a high enough concentration of protein to be healthy. However, if your hair does not bounce back or snaps when you stretch it, you may have a protein deficiency problem.
Other signs of protein deficiency in your hair include:
- Damaged Hair: If you have brittle, dry split-end hair that’s hard to manage, your hair is damaged. You can restore the health of your hair by increasing your protein intake or by taking protein supplements.
- Limp Hair: Hair that is stringy, limp or flat indicates a protein deficiency. It’s possible to get fuller hair by including protein in your diet or using a protein-based hair treatment.
- High Porosity of Hair: The more porous your hair is, the more likely it is to become frizzy and tangled when exposed to water or other products that contain conditioner. Hair might become porous if you don’t get enough protein.
A blood test can reveal if a person has an adequate amount of protein in their system. A total protein, albumin, and albumin/globulin (A/G) ratio blood test can be administered by a physician. These tests are used to determine whether or not a patient has diabetes. The liver makes the proteins albumin and globulin. This test can reveal whether or not total protein levels are too low, as well as whether or not albumin and globulin proteins are at their optimum levels. It’s possible that an imbalance between these two proteins is a sign of a medical condition like a liver or kidney problem or an autoimmune disease.
Hereditary Hair Loss & Protein Deficiency
Scientists have yet to discover a connection between a lack of protein and a family history of hair loss. A protein deficiency is unlikely to cause hereditary hair loss, but it may cause other types of shedding. If you have a family history of hair loss, increasing your protein intake will have no effect on your hair’s ability to regrow. If you have hereditary hair loss, you may want to try a treatment that has been scientifically proven to work.
Always consult a doctor if you’re unsure about the cause of your hair loss. If you self-diagnose a vitamin or mineral deficiency and begin taking supplements without consulting a doctor, you run the risk of doing more harm than good. There are many factors that can contribute to hair loss, and only your doctor can determine whether you are suffering from a protein deficiency or if your hair loss runs in your family.
Will hair grow back after Protein Deficiency?
Hair loss is common in people who don’t get enough protein in their diet. This has a negative impact on one’s self-esteem, but it can also lead to health problems. All of this, however, can be undone. Simply increasing your daily intake of protein-rich foods will not only slow or stop hair loss, but will also promote the growth of thicker, healthier hair. Hair growth and density can both be aided by a high protein diet. Protein has numerous benefits for hair, and failing to take advantage of these benefits will result in poor hair quality and, in the worst-case scenario, baldness.
How Much Protein is Required for Healthy & Strong Hair?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the United States, the body requires 35% of total daily calories from protein. In terms of grams of protein, this equates to roughly 46 to 56 grams for an adult. According to the individual’s gender, age, weight, and height the number varies. Amino acids, the protein building blocks, are required for healthy hair. Only 11 of the 20 amino acids can be synthesized by the body, which means the other nine amino acids, dubbed essential amino acids, must be obtained through diet.
Complete proteins, which contain all nine necessary amino acids, can halt hair loss and prevent additional issues, according to research published in Dermatology Practical & Conceptual in January 2017. When you consume protein, you get a B vitamin called biotin, which aids in the metabolism of amino acids and supports strong, healthy hair.
Best Protein Sources for Healthy Hair
Hair loss is a common occurrence, whether you’re an adult or post-adult. And in the majority of instances, we can stop the hair loss in its tracks before it worsens. A balanced, nutritious diet is key to good health. Proteins, in particular, can help us prevent hair loss if we consume enough of them. This will not only keep your hair from falling out, but it will also give you a fuller, healthier head of hair by preventing hair loss. When compared to fresh whole food protein consumption, protein powders and supplements were shown to be extremely unsatisfactory for addressing protein deficiency in patients. Some foods high in protein may assist to prevent hair loss.
Plant Protein Sources
- Complex carbs: Be sure to consume a sufficient amount of complex carbohydrates as part of your diet. Complex carbohydrates include quinoa, brown rice, wheat and whole grain, as well as rolled or steel cut oats, yams, and sweet potatoes. The 5 grams of protein in a hot cup of oats will help you meet your daily protein requirements. Vitamin B (the whole spectrum), zinc and dietary fiber are also abundant in complex carbohydrates.
- Beans and lentils: Tofu is a good source of protein because it has 10-20 grams of protein per cup (for every 100grams). Due to their high zinc, iron and Vitamin B2, 1, and 6 content, beans and lentils help promote thicker, stronger hair.
- Nuts: There are several micronutrients essential for healthy hair that may be found in nuts such as almonds, Brazil nuts (which include high levels of protein), walnuts (which contain high levels of iron), and peanuts (which contain high levels of omega 3 fatty acids). Almonds provide 20 grams of protein per cup. A little goes a long way, so consult with your dietitian before you indulge in any nuts.
- Seeds: These small dietary products are packed with Omega 3 fats, calcium, fibre and protein from sesame to flax to chia to hemp seeds. Hemp seeds include 5 grams of protein per tablespoon.
Good sources of protein include lean meats like turkey and chicken, as well as lean cuts of beef with the fat removed. A 100-gram serving of chicken has 30 grams of protein, compared to 1 egg’s 6 grams of protein. Eggs and meat are excellent sources of biotin and iron, both of which are necessary for beautiful hair.
Among the many health benefits of seafood such as salmon, tuna, and cod are the high levels of protein as well as Omega 3 and other important fatty acids they contain. Both nutrients are critical for healthy hair development and a dandruff-free scalp. Tuna has 25 grams of protein in a tin.
Drinking a glass of milk might help you keep your hair looking great. One cup of cottage cheese provides 25 grams of protein to your body. Increase your protein intake by eating dairy with every meal. Milk, yogurt, cheese, paneer, buttermilk, and cream are just a few examples.
Topical Treatment Options (on-scalp)
After suffering from protein shortage for a long time, there is little you can do to regain your beautiful hair. The only way to restore lost hair is to accept patience as a virtue and use cosmetic treatments, while also increasing your protein intake to avoid future thinning.
Use Protein Treatment
It encourages hair development while shielding it from toxins and the effects of the environment. A protein treatment might help protect your hair if you use heat or style it often. When it comes to making your own protein therapy at home, coconut oil is an excellent choice. It’s packed with protein and good lipids, so it’s a great choice for damaged hair in need of natural protein treatment. The use of a coconut oil hair mask is a low-cost, high-quality treatment that provides thorough moisturization. Coconut oil reduces protein loss both before and after washing hair.
Reconstructors are specialized deep-conditioners with a balanced protein and moisture content. The high protein content makes them ideal for repairing severely damaged hair after chemical treatments, perms, and other forms of hair care.
A topical ointment authorized by the US Food and Drug Administration that dermatologists highly suggest as an excellent therapy for hair regrowth. Minoxidil is available in two concentrations: 2% and 5%. A liquid solution or foam version of the medicine is administered twice daily straight to the scalp (as advised by your trichologist) to stimulate dormant hair follicles to revive and regrow. Minoxidil is also used to combat hair thinning and balding. People’s responses vary, but regular use for 2 months produces noticeable results.
Other Treatment Options
Treatments for hair regrowth are being revolutionized thanks to platelet-rich plasma (PRP). This highly sought-after treatment has the ability to wake up dormant hair follicles and get them to sprout anew. PRP can be used to fill up bald areas and to prevent hair loss. The patient’s blood is drained, and the platelets are enriched in USFDA-approved equipment (known as a centrifuge) before the platelets are further stimulated with growth-promoting proteins infused into them. Platelet-rich plasma is injected into the patient’s scalp, where it is used to treat various diseases. Within a few weeks of the first few sessions, you’ll notice a difference.
Another medication for males exclusively has been authorized by the US Food and Drug Administration to combat hair loss and thinning. It works by lowering levels of DHT, a naturally occurring hormone that contributes to baldness.
Important Note: Before attempting any of the hair treatments listed above, be sure to check with your doctor.
The key to having beautiful hair is to take care of your body from the inside out. Don’t forget to eat enough protein each day and take proper care of your hair. Visit your trichologist if your hair loss is more than usual so that you can be treated sooner rather than later. If you catch an issue early on, you have a better chance of curing it completely.
Can Too Much of a Protein Cause Hair Loss?
Hair loss can be caused by an imbalance in your hair’s protein and water composition. Hair development depends on a proper balance of protein and water in your diet.
Hair that is overloaded with protein repels water, which reduces the amount of moisture in your hair. Hair becomes stiff and brittle due to an overabundance of protein deposits in it.
Recent research has also shown that whey protein isolate and casein protein might exacerbate premature hair loss.
Because of the concentrated amino acids included in protein shakes like whey protein isolate, the body produces more testosterone, which breaks down into DHT.
Creative, versatile, and passionate about her craft, Rupa Das is a well-recognized name in the world of fashion and makeup! This is a woman who has been in the fashion and makeup industry for 24 years and is still one of the leading international makeup artist in the circuit! She has worked in big brands like Lakme, Green Trends, Colors and transitioned to become a Beauty (Hair & Skin) Trainer.