Hair thinning? Health experts say you may be missing this essential nutrient in your diet

Hair thinning?  Health experts say you may be missing this essential nutrient in your diet

If you notice more and more hairs falling out and want to find the cause, many hair health experts suggest analyzing your diet first and foremost. Although hair loss for many of us is unavoidable with agea diet devoid of sufficient protein it can lead to thinner strands and weaker braids overall.

We talked to experts to learn more about the importance of a high-protein diet for healthy hair and how much you need to consume daily if stronger, shinier locks are your goal. Read on for hints, tips and insights from John Willl, hair expert and co-founder of NiaWigs Inc., Ghanima Abdullahhair expert and cosmetologist at The Right Hairstyles and Lisa RichardsRegistered nutritionist and creator of The Candida Diet.

How protein supports healthier hair

One of the main nutrients that most affects the health of our hair is protein, explains Will. “Proteins help the cells in our body’s tissues, including the tissues that make up our hair, to grow. The significance of this is that without protein, our hair will break and become stiff,” she says. Protein deficiency can cause hair loss in some circumstances, adds Will, since protein is necessary for keratin synthesis. Keratin, she says, is a “unique protein found in our hair that keeps it healthy and helps our body get the nutrients it needs to maintain healthy hair.”

Since protein makes up the entire structure of hair, a protein deficiency can cause hair loss, he warns. “Some people eat a strict diet that depletes their protein stores, which can lead to a lack of nutrients and hair loss.” Will emphasizes that hair is an “extremely delicate component of our body, so if it were to become damaged and weakened, the likelihood of hair loss would be high.”

Richards agrees, saying that strong hair is healthy hair and is greatly affected by the nutrients we take in throughout our lives. “As we age, it can be more difficult to keep our hair strong as our nutrient needs and intake change.” Fortunately, Richards points out that there are plenty you can integrate into your regular diet to help you reach your goals for strong hair. “Most likely, these are foods you already enjoy, but may not eat very intentionally or often,” he says.

High-protein foods to include in your diet

If you’re creating a well-balanced diet and want to focus specifically on hair health, Richards says that eggs and dairy are loaded with essential nutrients known to prevent and even reverse hair loss. “Biotin, B12, protein, zinc, and omega-6 are vital to the hair growth process,” she says, and can be found in these foods. Biotin, in particular, Richards adds, is “connected with reversing and slowing hair loss.” Other biotin-rich foods include “seeds and nuts, fish and sweet potatoes,” Richards lists. These may be “more ideal options” for those who want to follow an “anti-inflammatory or allergen-free diet, where eggs and dairy wouldn’t fit,” Richards acknowledges.

Abdullah agrees, explaining that eating protein-rich foods actually helps keratin synthesis. “Keratin is the protein that makes up most of your hair and nails, so getting more of it in your system will help keep them strong despite your age,” he reiterates. “Keratin, built from the amino acids in collagen, is the main protein in hair, so collagen can provide your body with the building blocks it needs to grow more hair.” High-protein foods she suggests include “yogurt, meats like chicken and beef, legumes, and nuts.”

How much protein is needed for your braids?

Will explains that “one gram of protein per pound of body weight is a good protein goal.” Typically, a person needs at least “45 grams of protein per day for healthy hair,” she adds, saying “it all depends on your body weight and diet strategy.” She concludes that a decent source of protein includes “an egg, cheese, salmon, or lean meat.” To prevent hair loss, another pro tip is to “stay away from products that contain too many chemicals” and, ultimately, for healthy hair, “combine a decent protein-rich diet with regular exercise.”

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