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Protein & Hair: How much is too much and how little is too little?

  • 28th May 2018
  • 628

Protein is vital to your overall health but it is especially important for the health of your hair. Without protein and the vital chain of amino acids that it is composed of we lose our locks. Altogether there are 22 amino acids that can combine to form different acids that can help create blood, skin, nails, and skin.

Without protein, our immune systems do not work as well. That is because protein regulates the balance of acids and water in our bodies. We need this balance in our system or the body is not able to make the antibodies we need for constant repair and regeneration of tissues.

Hair as such, functionally, is a non essential organ in the body. So, when there is any nutrient lack in the body, that lack reflects in hair immediately, sometimes even before it reflects in the blood. Therefore, any sign of falling hair or brittle, dull appearance is an early indicator of the nutritional imbalance in the body.

How Much Protein Do You Need a Day?

The average Indian, especially on a vegetarian diet, consumes far less protein than the recommended daily intake. One needs between fifty and sixty grams of protein making up ten to twelve percent of our total calories to stay healthy.

To figure out how much protein you need to stay healthy multiply .36 grams of protein per each pound of your weight. The optimum amount you need to have healthy hair. For instance, a 50 kg person will require about 40 gms of protein in the daily diet. One egg, one cup of sprouts or a bowl of almonds and walnuts all contain about 8 to 9 gms of protein. This gives an idea of how deficient our diets are in protein.

On the other hand, excessive consumption of proteins, as in the case of some cases of exclusion diets can also push the body into a state of ketosis. Ketosis itself can cause hair loss due to stress on the body, so just going on a mono diet rich in protein will not help hair loss or hair health.

It is important to remember that a lot of animal foods rich in protein also contain iron which is another essential ingredient for hair. The iron in plant foods often does not get absorbed properly so it is important to fortify with Vitamin C rich foods, which help in iron absorption. It is also important to remember that calcium retards the absorption of iron, so one must combine foods judiciously. For example, paneer palak, popular dish combines iron-rich spinach with calcium-rich paneer, this will retard absorption of iron. On the other hand, Alu Palak combines iron-rich spinach with Vitamin C rich potato which will enhance the absorption of iron and is logically a more balanced nutritional combination.

Balance is the Key!

Do ensure you include other nutrients like omega 3 and trace elements like manganese, selenium, and magnesium in the diet as well. Eat foods like eggs, flax seeds, and walnuts for omega 3 and green vegetables and brown rice for trace elements. A good way to ensure protein intake is to add it to every meal. For instance, eggs for breakfast, a nut at 11 AM, sprouts with lunch and fish with dinner is a great way to do this. If you are vegetarian, replace fish with tofu or paneer at bedtime.

Balance is the key to ensuring healthy, lustrous hair and overall health. If you are confused about balancing your diet, do consult a nutritionist who can help you with the same. Eat healthy, live healthy, look beautiful from the inside out and flaunt your lustrous locks with gay abandon!

– Dr. Aparna Santhanam, Consultant, Livon Hair Gain

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