Keratin is a type of fibrous protein molecule which serves as a building block of some living tissues. It is the major component of hair and nails in humans and tissues like horns, hooves and wool in animals. Eating foods rich in certain proteins can boost keratin levels, improving the growth, health and appearance of hair and nails. The substance is also believed to combine with collagen to affect skin health and elasticity.
Proteins - Meat, Vegetable & Dairy
Healthy sources of iron-rich protein can boost the production of keratins in the body and improve the health of skin, hair and nails. Good options to increase protein levels in your diet include lean meats like veal, chicken, fish or shrimp.
Vegetable sources of protein like beans, nuts, and whole grains have the same positive effect on keratin levels and offer the added benefit of healthy fibre and abundant vitamins and minerals. If red meat is your preferred source of protein, choose the leanest cuts and limit intake to avoid excess fat. Dairy foods are also rich sources of protein. Milk, cheese, cottage cheese and yoghurt are good examples of these sources.
B-Vitamins and Zinc
B-vitamins are an essential part of the process of cell production, and they enhance the positive effects of other nutrients that are consumed. Some good sources of vitamin B-6 include fortified whole-grain breakfast cereals, garbanzo beans, lean beef, pork tenderloin, white potatoes (w/skin), bananas, and lentils. Vitamin B-12 is abundant in shellfish, low-fat cottage cheese, soy milk and fortified cereals.
Zinc is also an important player in the game of cell growth and repair. Zinc-rich foods include peanut butter, oysters, pork tenderloin, turkey, wheat germ and veal.
Vitamin C and Folate
Vitamin C is important to keratin production because the protein which we consume has to be absorbed by the body to be beneficial. Vitamin C is particularly useful in aiding the absorption of vegetable-based proteins. This vitamin also enhances collagen production, another key factor in skin and hair health. For optimum benefit, vitamin C-rich fruits and vegetables should be consumed in the same meal as your chosen protein. Good sources of vitamin C include citrus fruits like grapefruit and oranges and vegetables like broccoli, kale, brussel sprouts and peppers.
Folate is also a beneficial nutrient that can be found in many fortified cereals, beans, and peas.