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Low Protein and Hair Loss: The Key Nutrient for Healthy Hair

While several factors can contribute to hair thinning - food choices and dietary habits play a large role in maintaining hair health. Among those there's a connection between low protein and hair loss. Explore the crucial connection between low protein levels and hair loss in this guide, emphasizing the pivotal role of sufficient protein intake in fostering strong, healthy hair while mitigating the potential risks of hair loss.

Health and the Protein Connection

Consuming enough daily protein is extremely important! Here are the top reasons: 

  • Building material for our brains, bones, blood, kidneys, liver, arteries, muscles (including the heart) …everything from our hair to our toenails! 
  • Needed for the growth development & repair of all body tissues.
  • Acts as an energy source - providing more constant and stable energy than carbohydrates, as well as an increased metabolism through a more complex digestion process. 
  • Helps maintain blood sugar and regulate fat-burning process. 
  • Component of hormones and neurotransmitters, which control many body functions such as growth, sexual development, mood and metabolic rate.
  • Regulates fluid concentrations and acid-base balance in the blood and tissues.
  • Transports fats, fat-soluble vitamins, and steroid hormones in the blood.
  • Active in the immune system as antibodies and antigens.
  • Helps defend our bodies against germs and pathogens.

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg!

Protein is Needed for Hair Growth 

Protein, as a fundamental component of hair, plays a critical role in ensuring optimal hair health.

Protein and Hair Structure: Hair consists primarily of a protein called keratin, which provides strength, structure, and resilience to each strand. Keratin is a fibrous protein rich in amino acids, which are the building blocks of the hair shaft. Consuming adequate protein ensures a continuous supply of these essential and branched chain amino acids (BCAAs), vital for avoiding issues with low protein and hair loss to maintain hair's strength and integrity.

Protein Deficiency and Hair Loss: Inadequate protein intake can lead to hair loss or hair thinning, as the body prioritizes the allocation of limited protein to essential bodily functions over non-essential processes like hair growth. Protein deficiency can push hair follicles into a resting phase (telogen) prematurely, leading to excessive shedding and reduced hair regrowth.

Amino Acids and Hair Growth: Long chains of amino acids, including branched-chain amino acids and essential amino acids, are integral to the synthesis of keratin and other proteins within hair follicles. Amino acids and are vital for hair growth and health, as they are the building blocks of the proteins that make up hair. However, focusing solely on branched chain amino acids (BCAAs) may not be sufficient, as a balanced intake of all essential amino acids is necessary for optimal hair health.

Of particular importance are sulfur-containing amino acids such as cysteine and methionine, which form strong disulfide bonds in keratin, enhancing hair strength and texture. Arginine, another amino acid, aids in improving blood circulation to the scalp, supporting hair follicle health.

Quality of Protein Sources: Not all proteins are created equal, and the source of dietary protein can significantly impact hair health. Animal-based proteins, such as wild-caught fish, grass-fed beef and lamb, organic pasture-raised poultry and eggs, wild game like venison, and buffalo contain a complete profile of essential amino acids and are highly bioavailable.

Plant-based sources like legumes, nuts, seeds, and other plant proteins may provide protein but lack specific amino acids critical for optimal hair growth. Therefore, individuals following vegetarian or vegan diets should ensure a well-balanced protein intake through a variety of complementary plant-based sources and amino acid supplements to prevent low protein and hair loss

Collagen and Hair Elasticity: Collagen, a structural protein, is crucial for hair elasticity and preventing breakage. Including collagen-rich foods and/or supplements in the diet can promote hair resilience and prevent brittleness.

Protein and Hormonal Balance: Hormonal imbalances, particularly androgenic hormones like dihydrotestosterone (DHT), contribute to hair loss. Adequate protein intake aids in maintaining hormonal balance, potentially reducing the impact of androgen-related hair loss conditions.

Refer to the PROTEIN CHART below to personalize your protein choices. The daily goal is to consume of 60-80 grams of high-quality protein. 

  • Strive for a minimum of 20 grams per meal to prevent low protein and hair loss.
  • An easy reference: the size of the palm-of-your-hand equals 20 grams of protein. For example, a piece of chicken that fits into the size of the palm of your hand. 
  • Again, ideally some protein at every meal or snack

Food Chart to Prevent Low Protein and Hair Loss

Below is a chart listing some common protein sources along with their approximate protein content per 100 grams organized in alphabetical order:

FoodQuantityProtein (grams)
Almonds1 oz6
Avocado1 medium2
Black Beans1/2 cup7
Buffalo4 oz29
Chicken Breast4 oz31
Chickpeas1/2 cup7
Cod Fish4 oz20
Cottage Cheese1/2 cup14
Cornish Hen4 oz27
Dairy-free Coconut Kefir1 cup4
Dairy-free Coconut Yogurt1 cup2
Eggs1 large7
Greek Yogurt1 cup10
Grassfed Beef4 oz29
Lamb4 oz26
Lentils (cooked)1/2 cup9
Lima Beans1/2 cup6
Liver4 oz21
Peas1/2 cup4
Pinto Beans1/2 cup6
Pork4 oz29
Poultry (depends on type and how it’s prepared)4 oz17-27
Pumpkin Seeds1 oz5
Sardines3 oz21
Salmon4 oz25
Sunflower Seeds1 oz5
Tilapia4 oz21
Tofu3 oz7
Turkey4 oz29

Please note that these values are approximate and can vary slightly depending on the specific product or brand. Also, the protein content may vary depending on the preparation method. For a more accurate nutritional profile, it's always best to check the packaging label.

Top 5 Protein Foods to Eat Regularly for Hair

  1. Wild-caught, cold-water fish - protein in the form of wild-caught, cold-water fish like salmon is loaded with amino acids and anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids, which are excellent for hair health. To shop for quality seafood click ==>> HERE 
  2. Organic pasture-raised poultry and eggscan shop ==>> HERE for quality poultry, meats and more
  3. Iron-rich meats like grass-fed beef, wild game like venison, and buffalo. Since the hair follicle and root are fed by a nutrient-rich blood supply, any iron deficiency deprives the follicles, which negatively affects the normal cycle of hair growth and can lead to excessive shedding of hairs.
  4. Organ meats like liver contains almost all hair nutrients! So does the seasoning spice PLUCK made from organic organ meats, which is an easy way to consume them if you don't like their taste! You can order ==>> HERE for PLUCK seasoning and for a limited time discount, use coupon code: JULIEOLSON
  5. Collagen protein powder contains many hair nutrients! But most collagen powders are incomplete because they are missing 4 of the 5 most important types of collagen. These 5 "super collagens" work together to support gorgeous hair (not to mention glowing skin, healthy bones and gut)! 
    Fortunately, there is one collagen powder that is truly complete. And works. It's got ALL 5 "super collagens". Plus, it's loaded with a special vitamin that fully activates the collagen inside your body. 
    ==> Try this "super collagen" with ALL 5 collagen proteins

Summary

Consuming adequate and quality protein is vital for promoting healthy hair, while helping to prevent hair loss. A protein-rich diet makes sure your hair has enough of the right essential amino acids necessary to produce hair proteins such as keratin. For optimal hair health, be sure to include all the proper macros such as quality fats, complex carbs, and protein from a variety of sources since they all work together synergistically. Protein is essential for hair health and to help avoid hair loss, especially for its amino acid profile and overall nutrient matrix.

P.S. If you're unsure what's causing hair loss, check out my HAIR LOSS QUIZ.

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