The Importance of Protein for Hair, Skin, and Nails
AUTHOR: Alexandra Hamlin (Nutritionist)
There is often an emphasis placed on taking care of your hair, skin and nails from the outside, but what about nourishing from within?
Protein is one of three macronutrients and is made up of 20 amino acids. The body can produce 11 of the 20 amino acids, the other 9 amino acids need to be obtained through the diet, such as protein powder. Protein plays several roles in the body including the growth and maintenance of healthy hair, skin, and nails.
One of the key proteins the body converts amino acids into is Keratin. Keratin is an intracellular fibrous protein that helps give hair, skin and nails their structure, rigidity, protective and water-resistant properties. You can boost the body’s natural keratin production through dietary intake of quality protein and further support hair, skin and nail health with a variety of vitamins and minerals.
Hair follicles are predominantly made up of the keratin protein. A low intake of dietary protein can lead to brittle hair and slow hair growth as the body lacks the amino acids required to support healthy, strong hair. Research suggests a lack of protein in the diet contributes to thinning and even hair loss.4 When dietary protein intake is low, the body prioritizes protein for essential functions such as supporting muscle structure and function, hormones, enzymes and energy, rather than hair growth.
Protein, vitamins and minerals all play a key role in the hair cycle and a nutrient deficiency may impact overall hair structure and growth.
Protein is one of the building blocks of skin tissue therefore it’s essential for healthy skin. The skin is made up of several proteins including keratin, elastin, and collagen.
The surface layer of the skin is composed of keratin, which is a tough protein that helps with barrier protection - guarding tissues, organs and structures against physical, chemical and biological damage by forming rigidity in the skin.5
The skin is also made up of elastin, a protein that provides structure and shape to the skin. A low level of elastin causes skin to sink and sag as the elastin fibers break down over time from aging and external exposures such as UV radiation.5
Collagen is another structural protein supporting healthy skin and wound healing. As we age, collagen synthesis decreases, and the structure of the skin breaks down leading to wrinkles and fine lines.5 The external environment and general aging processes reduce the body’s ability to produce collagen. The amino acids such as lysine and proline help to support the body’s production of collagen.
As with hair, keratin production is the key to strong and healthy nails. There is a link between low protein intake and brittle/weak nails.4 The amino acid cystine contributes to the strength and stability of keratin. A nutrient deficiency can appear on your nails as dry, crack, brittle or irregular shaped nails.
Clean Lean Protein contains all 9 essential amino acids to provide the body with the building blocks for vitality, repair and recovery. Made from the highest quality European golden peas, Clean Lean Protein is a delicious and convenient way to boost your daily protein consumption and support healthy hair, skin and nails.
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 Linus Pauling Institute. 2021. Skin Health. [online] Available at: <https://lpi.oregonstate.edu/mic/health-disease/skin-health> [Accessed 11 April 2021].
 Ausmed.com.au. 2021. The Keratin Trilogy: Skin, Hair and Nails | Ausmed. [online] Available at: <https://www.ausmed.com.au/cpd/articles/what-is-keratin> [Accessed 13 April 2021].
 Guo EL, Katta R. Diet and hair loss: effects of nutrient deficiency and supplement use. Dermatology Practical & Conceptual. 2017; 7(1):1-10.
 Cleveland Clinic. 2021. An Overview of Your Skin. [online] Available at: <https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/10978-skin> [Accessed 13 April 2021].
 Paz-Lugo PD, Lupianez JA, Melendez-Hevvia E. High glycine concentration increases collagen synthesis by articular chondrocytes in vitro: acute glycine deficiency could be an important cause of osteoarthritis. Amino Acids. 2018;50(10):1357-1365.
 Encyclopedia Britannica. 2021. keratin | Definition, Function, & Facts. [online] Available at: <https://www.britannica.com/science/keratin> [Accessed 11 April 2021].
 EverydayHealth.com. 2021. Fingernail Health – Nutrition for Dry, Brittle Nails | Everyday Health. [online] Available at: <https://www.everydayhealth.com/skin-beauty/fingernail-health-nutrition-dry-brittle-nails/> [Accessed 13 April 2021].