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pullanmuru
September 22nd, 2010, 01:41 PM
Hi all! Can you tell me how important protein in diet is regarding hair health and strenght?

I'm worried I don't get enough protein from my diet. My hair is very thin and fragile and breaks easily and stretches a lot when wet. A while back I did one chemical dye and my hair was like rubber bands when wet, it freaked me out! I was forced to cut of 10cm off my hair, because it just stretched and tangled and I couldn't get it to detangle. I will not use chem dyes never again!

Also my nails are extremely weak, they are literally like paper and they tear and break all the time, even though I keep them really short.

I am a vegetarian and I have hard time getting enough protein every day. Sometimes I probably get only around 20grams of protein, if even that much.. My hair also probably needs moisture but this problem with my paper-thin nails really makes me think that the protein is my problem.

Do any of you guys have had similar experiences or can you give me any advice? Is it important to get enough protein from diet or is there a way to add protein to hair after it's grown out of one's head? Or should I start drinking protein shakes or somethin?

spidermom
September 22nd, 2010, 01:47 PM
What you put into your body is far more important in terms of hair strength than anything you can put on your hair, although there are, of course, protein treatments and moisture treatments that you can try. Have you ever come across the book Diet for a Small Planet? It tells what vegetarian products you can eat together that will result in a more complete protein, such as brown rice with beans (and lots more combinations). Worth a read for any dedicated vegetarian/vegan!

proo
September 22nd, 2010, 01:47 PM
Eating eggs every day has definitely contributed to my hair health/strength/volume/shine.

Antipodienne
September 22nd, 2010, 01:49 PM
I'm a vegetarian too, and I know it can be tough to get enough protein.
Besides making sure your dietary requirements for protein are met (I'm a fan of rice and beans!), also check that you're getting enough vitamins.
Environmentally, what challenges are you putting your hair through on a daily basis? Think of all the chemicals you come in contact with, starting with your morning shower and going through your day. Could any of them be the culprit? I know when I stopped using SLS and cones, my hair started breaking less.

Dragon
September 22nd, 2010, 02:34 PM
A daily protein shake make help.

Anje
September 22nd, 2010, 03:22 PM
It's definitely worth trying to get more protein in your diet, for your general health as well as for your hair specifically. As someone said above, eggs are great. Making sure you're combining things well to make sure you're eating complete proteins (with all the amino acids your body is unable to make on its own) is also important.

Weak stretchy hair can also be a sign that you need to do a protein treatment, which you can apply to your head instead of eating. I'm pretty sure the Joico K-Pak is a favorite around here, though as someone with hair that hates protein, I can't really give specific recommendations. (You'll have to check the label yourself to see if it's compatible with your vegetarianism.) Be sure to apply a moisturizing treatment like an SMT (http://forums.longhaircommunity.com/showthread.php?t=128) after rinsing out the protein treatment, as protein treatments are usually drying to hair. I'll bet that'll make a difference for you.

kittensoupnrice
September 22nd, 2010, 03:43 PM
I'd definitely start increasing your protein intake.
Dairy, if you tolerate it, is a great source of protein. Eggs included.
Nuts and legumes should also be staples in your diet to keep your protein high.

I'm not sure where the biotin in pills comes from, but you might be able to find a vegetarian supplement.

Unfortunately, there is not really much you can do about hair that has already grown. Baby it, be nice, try some nice slippy-ifying treatments?

Hylia
September 22nd, 2010, 04:24 PM
I have the same problem with my hair and nails and I am veggie as well. I tried taking a hair and nail supplement that contains horsetail and biotin. It seems to be working well so far, so I think protein is a factor.

pullanmuru
September 23rd, 2010, 06:31 AM
Thanks for all your advices! Maybe I will just have to try to get more protein down my throat :)

I'm also wondering what is the significance of iron in diet? i know I'm low in iron because I wasn't allowed to donate blood. Not anemic or anything but just below the normal healthy range. I am shedding a whole lot of hair, it's everywhere and it's driving me nuts. And the hair is coming off in the root, since I can see the white bit at the end..

I think I'm also going to get some iron/vitamin C/B-vitamin supplement. I know a good one which is quite natural and easy on the stomach. Any other vitamins that are helpful?

templeofvenus
September 23rd, 2010, 06:50 AM
take a good multivitamin and mineral supplement for vegans/vegetarians and eat some eggs or nuts, tofu, if you can't have fish etc and drink milk too. Vitamin b complex are good for the blood and hair skin and nail health

drink plenty water for hydration thats also important to your hair


if you blow dry and flat iron I would stop as that makes hair break too, hope this helps you out!

florenonite
September 23rd, 2010, 06:57 AM
I'm also wondering what is the significance of iron in diet? i know I'm low in iron because I wasn't allowed to donate blood. Not anemic or anything but just below the normal healthy range. I am shedding a whole lot of hair, it's everywhere and it's driving me nuts. And the hair is coming off in the root, since I can see the white bit at the end..


Iron is necessary for the production of haemoglobin, which transports oxygen in the blood. Low iron means your blood isn't as effective at oxygenating your cells, which may well be contributing to the hair loss.

It is especially important for women to get enough iron, as they lose blood through menstruation.

bumblebums
September 23rd, 2010, 06:59 AM
Can you tell us more about your diet? What foods do you avoid, and what does your average day look like, in terms of what you eat? Are you new to vegetarianism? Do you make your own food or do you rely on someone else to do it, such as a university cafeteria?

Iron is immensely important for your health as a woman--nevermind your hair. And yes, hair needs silica, iron, calcium, magnesium, and sulphur to grow well. Sulphur you get from onions and garlic. Silica is found in cucumbers. Iron is a controversial nutrient for vegetarians; some people believe that different dietary sources of iron vary in quality. For example, there is a controversy over whether iron from meat or iron from spinach is easier to absorb (I suspect it varies from person to person). If you have iron malabsorption, you might run into serious health problems down the road, so you should be very careful about what you eat. Your hair might be the first indication that something is wrong.

pullanmuru
September 23rd, 2010, 10:39 AM
I've been vegetarian for 6 years. The first 3-4 years I had really good iron levels, even for a woman. Since then they've started to get lower.

What I eat? Too much processed foods and carbs. Some days I might eat pasta, bread, porridge, fruits, so basically just carbs, carbs, carbs... maybe a salad a couple of times a week. I don't drink milk, other than what I put in my coffee at work. I do use soy milk, and soy yoghurt, and normal cheese also. I eat eggs probably about once every two month - so not often! I should cook a lot more, and take that stuff with me to work. Instead I might just eat one soy yoghurt and a banana. And then I come home craving food and eat everything I can find which is usually more bread or baked goods or cookies or other junk..just something I can get into my mouth quick.

My ends are probably breaking also because I haven't taken the right kind of care of them, I've just recently started to learn more about how I should take care of my hair. But I used to have stronger and thicker hair, even when I used hair dye, and now even the roots feel thinner and weaker. It feels like individual hairs are thinner rather than lower quantity of hair. If I pull on hair strand it breaks right up. When wet it streches a lot and then breaks.

Anje
September 23rd, 2010, 10:54 AM
Ultimately, you need to have generally good nutrition and the full spectrum of nutrients to grow good hair. Hair's one of those things that the body makes that really indicates health, and long lustrous hair tends to be a sign that the owner has had many years of good health.

Some of the folks who've struggled with iron may have to weigh in on this, but my understanding is that we have short- and long-term stores of iron in our bodies. It seems plausible to me that for the first few years you were functioning well on your ferratin stores plus the iron you did get from your diet, and now those stored quantities are used up.

Are you taking supplements at all? One nutrient that is notably missing from vegan diets is vitamin B12, which must either be synthesized in a lab or come from animal sources. (Vegan diets historically have worked better in some developing countries because a lot of the foods are more contaminated with insects than in developed countries -- the accidental insect consumption is sufficient to supply B12 needs.) Among other things, B12 is necessary for iron absorption. Vitamin D might be another (of many) nutrient you need to watch for -- I see that you live in Finland, so you can only make it for yourself a few months per year, if you allow yourself sun exposure with UV protection. Here in the US, Vitamin D tends to be added to milk, which has greatly reduced the problems of D deficiency. I don't know whether it's enriched in foods by you.

Do try to balance your diet a bit. More real dairy (yogurt's good if you're like me and can't handle the lactose) and eggs every week would be a good starter. You simply can't make a meat-based body out of carbs... Your body needs the supplies to make meat and blood and hair. It's possible to provide these with a vegetarian diet, but it's a lot more difficult and takes some rigorous attention to ensure that you're consuming a wide variety of foods and don't have any holes in your nutrition.

pullanmuru
September 23rd, 2010, 01:04 PM
Thanks Anje for your reply. Very wise words. And you are probably right about the iron levels, my stores are running out.

I do take B-vitamin supplement occasionally, when I remember. Also I drink B12 fortified soy milk, and in Finland our butters and margarines are fortified with vitamin D, which is very good since we get only a few months of sun. I do take vitamin D-supplement also, but again, when I remember...it's really hard to remember to take them! :(

I would prefer to get nutrients from food but I would have to eat such a variety of different things and the quantities should be big enough. Like with protein, I would have to eat quite a lot of beans to get 50grams of protein. Soy is easier, as it's protein content is higher than in beans or peas, but I'm not sure if excessive intake of soy is healthy either. Some people think it shouldn't even be eaten every day, more like once or twice a week. Tofu is safe, I should try to eat more it, it also has calcium in it which is good.

I would still like to know which is more important, the protein in itself or the vitamins/nutrients (I may lack) like iron, B-vitamins, perhaps zinc, etc..

I've been trying to grow my hair for some years now and it always ends in tangle and a mess and a chop. First I thought it was impossible for me to even grow long hair, but now I'm thinking it's just the fact that my hair breaks before it gets long! Or gets to a state beyond help and the only solution are scissors! I did manage to get longest pieces to my waist but i couldn't bare the mess so I chopped some of it off. Maybe my new hair regimen (after reading this forum, all the new things I've learned :D) will helpo me to go past this.

aenflex
September 23rd, 2010, 02:43 PM
Sounds to me like you need some, for sure. Aphogee has a good, cheap protien pack that works very well. And it's literally dirt cheap. Nuts and stuff will help you, I am an semi-retired, non-practicing but sill practicing vegetarian, and I eat nuts and granola and TexturedVegProtein and/or SoyProtein like it's going out of style :)

Avital88
September 28th, 2010, 06:43 AM
i take an 20ml liquid silicum intake everyday and since one month my nails are hard like shells:)
I'm a vegetarian too so i know how important proteins are. i love a boiled egg in the morning and often eat a sports chocolat bar with high protein and no sugar in it.
It tastes delicious haha.its a quick way to add proteins too.
Ofcourse soja:) and try garlic supplements,my friend recommended that for hair loss and it actually worked.
Good luck.
xxAvi

Crazycatlady
September 28th, 2010, 07:38 AM
I'm a big fan of soy based protein bars for breakfast. You can get 10-20 grams of protein in right away and eat it on the run. Also, cheese is a good source too. String cheese is easy to take to work for a snack and if eaten along with nuts it satisfies you for a while. Almond butter is really tasty and you can eat it on bread, apples or right out of the jar with a spoon (my personal favorite!).

Good luck~ :)

CherrySilver
September 28th, 2010, 08:03 AM
Just google a few terms (protein, hair, diet, etc.) to learn more about protein and different sources, as well as other things (vitamins, supplements, etc.) that will help the health of your hair. It's really quite easy and a great way to learn. There are many self-professed experts out there on a variety of topics that have just that way by doing searches. You'll get loads of info and you can make your own decisions from there.

breezefaerie
September 28th, 2010, 08:19 AM
When I was in my teens, my mother (who is bulimic and has major food issues) went on a no-protein diet. I'm not sure what she wanted to accomplish by doing this - maybe she thought it was fattening?
Anyway, her hair fell out. And kept falling well after she started eating protein again. Her hair has never been the same. Before the diet she had WL straight black hair. After the diet, her hair turned a funny brownish gray and was so thin and fine like cotton candy.

Crazycatlady
September 28th, 2010, 09:12 AM
When I was in my teens, my mother (who is bulimic and has major food issues) went on a no-protein diet. I'm not sure what she wanted to accomplish by doing this - maybe she thought it was fattening?
Anyway, her hair fell out. And kept falling well after she started eating protein again. Her hair has never been the same. Before the diet she had WL straight black hair. After the diet, her hair turned a funny brownish gray and was so thin and fine like cotton candy.
Wow, this is so sad. I'm sorry to hear this about your mom. Thank you for posting this, though. It really does speak to the importance of a healthy diet.

aisling
September 28th, 2010, 10:48 AM
Thanks Anje for your reply. Very wise words. And you are probably right about the iron levels, my stores are running out.

I do take B-vitamin supplement occasionally, when I remember. Also I drink B12 fortified soy milk, and in Finland our butters and margarines are fortified with vitamin D, which is very good since we get only a few months of sun. I do take vitamin D-supplement also, but again, when I remember...it's really hard to remember to take them! :(

I would prefer to get nutrients from food but I would have to eat such a variety of different things and the quantities should be big enough. Like with protein, I would have to eat quite a lot of beans to get 50grams of protein. Soy is easier, as it's protein content is higher than in beans or peas, but I'm not sure if excessive intake of soy is healthy either. Some people think it shouldn't even be eaten every day, more like once or twice a week. Tofu is safe, I should try to eat more it, it also has calcium in it which is good.

I would still like to know which is more important, the protein in itself or the vitamins/nutrients (I may lack) like iron, B-vitamins, perhaps zinc, etc..

I've been trying to grow my hair for some years now and it always ends in tangle and a mess and a chop. First I thought it was impossible for me to even grow long hair, but now I'm thinking it's just the fact that my hair breaks before it gets long! Or gets to a state beyond help and the only solution are scissors! I did manage to get longest pieces to my waist but i couldn't bare the mess so I chopped some of it off. Maybe my new hair regimen (after reading this forum, all the new things I've learned :D) will helpo me to go past this.

I don't think there's a simple answer to the bolded question, at least it's not possible for us to give you an answer here, a thorough health check and a bunch of tests might perhaps give you an answer. In general it's important to get everything in the right proportions, proteins, fat, carbs and other nutrients, together they make us feel good and work well.

It's good that you recognize the problems in your diet, now you just have to do something about it. Good luck!

jeanniet
September 28th, 2010, 01:17 PM
Most people probably eat too much protein rather than too little. I tracked my nutritional intake for about a year because I have to be careful with my diet due to reflux and osteoporosis, and I found that it was actually more difficult to keep my protein intake from being too high (too much protein in the diet can cause problems with calcium levels), even though I'm a carb lover and seldom eat meat. You might try tracking your diet for a few weeks with a program such as Fitday (that's what I used), so you can get a better idea of where it might be lacking. Overall, eating plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, beans, whole grains, etc. is beneficial to you in many ways, so it's worthwhile learning more about good nutrition and ways to improve your diet.

jera
September 28th, 2010, 02:08 PM
I do take B-vitamin supplement occasionally, when I remember. Also I drink B12 fortified soy milk, and in Finland our butters and margarines are fortified with vitamin D, which is very good since we get only a few months of sun. I do take vitamin D-supplement also, but again, when I remember...it's really hard to remember to take them! :(

Do you take your B12 supplements sublingually (in liquid form under the tongue? ) It does make a difference for many with this deficiency. :confused:

pullanmuru
September 29th, 2010, 02:25 AM
Thanks for all your answers, you people are very helpful :)

jera: I used to take vit B12 in a capsule form but recently found this liquid vitamin "drink" Floradix ( http://www.requiredforlife.com/ ) which has iron, B-vitamins including B12 and vitamin C . I prefer to take that for iron, since it's gentle on the stomach and iron pills aren't and the vitamin C in this product boosts iron absorption, I think. So I stopped taking B vitamin in a capsule, since I get it from Floradix.

jeanniet: I'm pretty sure I don't eat too much protein, as I don't eat meat at all and no fish either. I just think I eat the wrong foods. I have a bad habbit of skipping for example a healthy lunch so that I can something "good" (ie; high in sugar and fat) later in the evening. I know it's bad! I guess I just don't have enough will power to stay away from junk.

Above all that I would like to lose a few kilos so especially on diet I should be really careful and wise about what I eat!

I will try to get better, your wonderful hair pictures are a great motivator :) ...thanks again for all your advices :)

guilty_biscuit
September 29th, 2010, 04:55 AM
To the OP:

It's true, as some have stated, that your body creates complete proteins from the incomplete proteins that you consume--so whether or not you are eating a whole can of beans every day, your body will naturally try to get what it needs out of the foods you consume.

I am anemic and was vegetarian for many years--and I had a hard time when I was stressed or busy keeping my diet balanced, so I have a lot of sympathy with you on that score. The most important thing is to keep stuff simple--if you have a grab-and-go life, it's not going to work for you to turn into some master chef who has 3 hours every night to devote to cooking a meal. On the other hand, starting slow and changing little things can make a big difference.

For example: you mention salad. You could replace the lettuce in your salad with spinach, and top it with walnuts or another nut--voila! Dark leafy green plus protein. If you have yogurt, you could try getting some hi-protein granola to add into.

Ultimately, you have got to do what works for you. But I think that some of the other posters are right that it isn't just about protein, protein, protein--it's about having a balanced diet.

Joliebaby
September 29th, 2010, 01:01 PM
I was once the kind of vegetarian who rarely ate any vegetables ;) Or fresh fruit for that matter. I was a carb junkie through and through. After getting sick with Crohn's disease (inflammatory bowel disease) I drastically changed my diet.

I recommend trying to get more protein, as well as vegetables!!

Omelettes are easy, fast and nutritious. Add some chopped tomatoe, onion, bell pepper.. grated cheese.
Try Keso -the brand of cottage cheese in Finland.
Tofu and halloumi cheese for making pasta sauce.
Mushrooms are very very good source of protein!
Beans, lentils, nuts.
Drink milk.
Eat a boiled egg.
Protein bars.

Also, don't forget the actual veggies. I like to make veggie sticks and dip and we are having these in the fridge almost always to snack on. I'm trying to teach DD healthy eating habits!

Blueberries are now recognized as superfood . I love to eat a bag of frozen blueberries with raw muscabado sugar, yum.

Try eating more whole grains instead of white flour. Whole grain and rye bread!

Try out quinoa as well, it's very nutritious, cooks like rice, and tastes good.

A good multivitamin and omega fatty acid supplement would be good too.

Good luck! You may find that you start to crave fresh fruit, berries and veggies!

McFearless
September 29th, 2010, 01:17 PM
I'd go out an get a multivitamin with 100% daily value of all the vitamins. I don't know if you eat dairy but milk has 8g of protein per cup. Eggs, cheese, etc all have good sources of protein.