Hair is made up of protein, so a protein deficiency may lead to hair loss. According to Harvard University, most of us take in adequate protein, however a deficiency can also result from poor absorption. Pregnant women and those who are building muscle with weight training may need additional protein in their diets.
Hair Loss Causes
Hair loss can be caused by a wide variety of other nutritional and medical issues. Hormone problems can cause hair loss, as can deficiencies in numerous vitamins such as vitamin E, vitamin D or vitamin A. Hair loss can also be triggered by prescription drugs such as antibiotics and steroids. Some hair products will cause hair loss, too.
Protein Deficiency Symptoms
Protein deficiency can lead to hair loss or to dry and brittle hair. Anemia and immune suppression are also symptoms, as is depression.
Sources of Protein for Hair Growth
Protein is found in animal sources, such as fish, chicken, pork and turkey. Organic meats and non-farmed fish are advised, as toxins and hormones in conventionally raised animals or farm-raised fish add to the body's toxic load. Vegetarian sources of protein are found in whole grains, beans, and nuts. Vegetable sources have the added benefit of containing fiber and many vitamins such as vitamin C and vitamin A, as well as antioxidants, which fight free radical damage. While animal proteins are loaded with fat and cholesterol, vegetable sources are low in fat and high in healthy oils, such as peanut oil or almond oil. Rice bran is another low-fat source of vegetable protein.
Nuts contain protein along with many other healthy nutrients. The Harvard School of Public Health has reported that people who eat nuts on a regular basis have fewer heart attacks. Research published in the Physicians' Health Study demonstrated that eating a few servings of nuts each week can lower the risk of heart attacks or sudden cardiac deaths by 30 and 50 percent. Nuts contain unsaturated fats, which help lower cholesterol as well.