What Are the Benefits of Protein for Hair Growth?

Sara Schmidt
Sara Schmidt

There are a couple of benefits of protein for hair growth, but most center on the nutrient’s ability to strengthen the connection of the follicle to the scalp and its potential to thicken individual strands from the root up. Most of the time protein alone can’t stimulate new growth. What it can do is improve the strength and health of the hairs that are already growing. Not all people experience the same benefits, and a lot depends on the type of protein used and its format. Eating more protein-rich foods is one method, but protein-infused shampoos, conditioners, and hair “masks” are often more immediately effective. With continued use, these sorts of products may help prevent hair loss while also giving the appearance of thicker, fuller hair.

Wheat germ is a good source of protein for hair growth.
Wheat germ is a good source of protein for hair growth.

Preventing Hair Loss

Protein for hair growth is sometimes recommended as a treatment for people who wish to prevent hair loss. Hair loss is often genetic, especially as people age, and may also be related to stress. There isn’t always a way to reverse losses, and the pattern can be difficult to stop, too. Just the same, many natural therapy advocates recommend using protein-rich foods or supplements, particularly when the alternative is chemical-based creams or medications. Some health practitioners even recommend specific foods to promote hair retention, such as salmon and flaxseed. These are foods that contain omega-3 fatty acids, which have been linked to general improvements in hair, nail, and skin health.

A man starting to lose his hair.
A man starting to lose his hair.

A severe protein deficiency can also sometimes result in hair loss, and in these cases eating foods rich in this complex nutrient may bring about a reversal. Most people who have regular access to a wide variety of food, however, will not lose their hair purely for diet-related reasons. Hair loss that happens solely because of a lack of protein in the diet is very rare.

Keratin is the protein found in hair cells.
Keratin is the protein found in hair cells.

Strengthening Individual Strands

Prevention of hair breakage is another reason why people may choose protein supplementation. When hair breaks, it often does not grow back to its full length. If hair has a tendency to break, other efforts used to help make hair grow may still fail. An adequate protein intake strengthens hair, making it stronger and less apt to snap, snarl, and become brittle, all of which can lead to breakage.

Eating salmon may help improve hair growth.
Eating salmon may help improve hair growth.

Thickening Locks and Improving Shine

A number of protein proponents also claim that the nutrient can make hair healthier overall. This isn’t necessarily directly related to growth, but it does impact general appearances. When hair follicles and strands are durable, flexible, and thick, they often look fuller, and typically resist damage better than they otherwise might.

Cottage cheese and eggs are good sources of protein and may help hair growth.
Cottage cheese and eggs are good sources of protein and may help hair growth.

Understanding Protein Generally

Most health experts agree that regular protein intake is required for good health, as well as hair health more specifically. Most hair itself is made up of protein molecules and the science behind recommending the nutrient for growth is, in most cases, sound.

Not all protein is equal, though. The protein found within hair cells is known as keratin, and keratin is directly responsible for the composition of each strand of hair. Most of the protein people consume is different. It’s either animal-based, primarily meats and organ tissues, or plant-based, like legumes and certain leafy greens. The amount of protein each person needs daily varies on an individual basis by weight, height, and other factors. People who have weak immune systems or illnesses such as anemia, which is an iron deficiency, may require more. In general, an average adult person requires between 1.4 to 2.5 ounces (40 and 70 grams) of protein daily. Taking more might help hair growth, but a lot of this depends on the circumstances.

Supplementation Techniques

A high-protein diet is usually a good place to start. Eggs, salmon, and liver are popular sources and are widely available in most places. Dairy products like yogurt and cottage cheese are also good options, particularly for vegetarians. Other good sources of protein for hair growth include brewer's yeast and wheat germ. Additionally, processed protein supplements, often available in powdered or capsule form, might also be considered, though in general these can’t serve as replacements for otherwise balanced eating.

In addition to eating more protein, people can also usually purchase protein-based hair care products designed to help improve hair from the outside in. These include conditioners, spray-on treatments, and hair lotions, sometimes also known as masks. Keratin, animal, and plant proteins may be found in these products depending on the specifics.

Consuming an adequate amount of protein may prevent hair breakage.
Consuming an adequate amount of protein may prevent hair breakage.
Sara Schmidt
Sara Schmidt

A graduate of Southeast Missouri State University, Sara has a Master’s Degree in English, which she puts to use writing for wiseGEEK and several magazines, websites, and nonprofit organizations. She has published her own novella, and has other literary projects currently in progress. Sara’s varied interests have also led her to teach children in Spain, tutor college students, run CPR and first aid classes, and organize student retreats.

You might also Like

Readers Also Love

Discussion Comments


Protein can really help for hair growth. I experienced losing my hair and I tried several different kinds of products, hoping to stimulate hair growth but didn't find anything that worked until I found Reloxe. When I tried using it, it worked in only a few months! I was glad to find this product. Because of Reloxe my hair is back to normal.


I can vouch for how much of a difference adding more protein to my diet made for me. I started blaming my hair loss on hormones, but someone suggested I start eating more protein.

I started adding flaxseed and nuts to my diet and really made sure that I had protein at every meal. There is protein in more foods than just meat, and this also helped me eat a healthier diet.

I am not sure if it was the extra protein I was getting or the healthier food I was eating, or maybe a combination of both, but my hair is thicker and healthier since then.

I am sure that some of the hair growth products work for some people, but for me it was just making some simple changes in the types of food I ate.


I have more of a problem with my hair breaking than losing it. I have long hair and try to keep it healthy, but lately it has been really dry and keeps breaking. I don't want to cut all my hair off, and have been trying different products to help strengthen it.

One thing I never really thought about was my diet. I have been concentrating more on products I have been putting on my hair instead of what I am putting on my body. It sounds like I need to do both, and should start concentrating on getting some more protein.


It makes a lot of sense that there is a connection between protein and hair growth. Since so much of our hair is made up of protein, it goes to reason that getting enough protein in our diet would also give us adequate amounts of healthy hair.


I feel fortunate that I have thick hair and have not had to worry about losing hair. I have a female friend though who has always had very thin hair that makes her feel very self conscious.

I think it would be very hard to have such thin hair like this as a female. She has tried several different kinds of products hoping to stimulate hair growth, but hasn't found anything that has worked yet.

She has struggled with this ever since she was in her 20's, so this doesn't have anything to do with getting older. It is something that will probably even get worse with age.

Post your comments
Forgot password?