Keratin: you may have heard this word on shampoo adverts, and its scientific definition is a fibrous structural protein. Keratin is also the key component (88%) of our hair, and it is produced in cells on the outer layer of the skin called keratinocytes, which require amino acids
to produce the keratin that becomes our scalp hair. Diets very low in certain amino acids can result in the hair loss
condition Telogen Effluvium
, where hairs prematurely enter the resting phase of their cycle, shedding around three months later.
Is Your Diet Missing Meat? Don't Worry
The body makes 12 amino acids itself, but eight need to be included in our diet. This is where vegetarians and vegans may struggle, as amino acids are found in various proteins, and meat and fish are an easy way to make sure that you're getting them. Below, we look at how vegetarians and vegans can still get the amino acids their hair needs. Of the amino acids that our body does not produce, two, called lysine and methionine, are particularly relevant to hair growth.
Lysine is one of the essential building blocks of protein. Good sources of lysine for both vegans and vegetarians include fruits and vegetables, particularly sprouts and tomatoes, and tropical fruits; vegetarians can also find it in dairy and eggs.
Getting The Balance Right
Methionine, the second amino acid important for hair production that the body does not produce, can also be included in a vegetarian diet
. However, there is a risk of including too much of the amino acid in your diet. A 2009 Temple University study found results that may indicate a diet high in methionine increases the risk of Alzheimer's disease, so ensuring your diet does not contain too much is important. For both vegans and vegetarians, leafy greens such as spinach, and vegetables such as broccoli, squash and courgette have high levels of the amino acid.
Nuts are also useful sources of methionine for those avoiding animal products, Brazil nuts are the kind with the highest methionine content, although sesame seeds have three times as much, with 200 calories worth containing 1000mg, compared with the Brazil nut's 300mg. For vegetarians, 200 calories of eggs provides between 1600 and 1700 mg.
A Helping Hand
Confusingly, though, there is no established upper limit for methionine consumption, on account of it only being discovered in 1922. However, it has been estimated that adults need no more than 800 mg to 1,000 mg per day. Because the required amounts of both lysine and methionine are reasonably low, it should not be too hard for vegetarians and vegans to include the essential amino acids in their diet. However, we know that remembering to try to include all their vitamins, minerals and other essentials in a daily diet can be tricky for those avoiding meat and fish, or in the case of vegans
, all animal products. With this in mind, The Belgravia Centre has created the highly-targeted, premium Hair Vitalics
supplement, which gives hair the best chance possible of keeping strong, healthy, and full of life. It is suitable for vegetarians and those following a plant-based diet but strict vegans may wish to avoid them as they contain vitamin B12 sourced from the wool of live, healthy sheep.