Hair plays an important role in our appearance along with other physical features. Fueled by popular perception of perfect hair as promoted by commercials, both men and women aspire for healthy and shiny hair. Loss of hair, greying and thinning of hair, receding hairline, and baldness might seem minor health problems but might affect confidence and self-esteem in some individuals. Further, these symptoms might be an indication of an underlying illness. Loss of hair can be a symptom or a problem in itself.
In adults, hair loss can be triggered by a number of factors such as insufficient nutrients, vitamins, and minerals in the diet; stress and anxiety; hormonal imbalances; usage of certain medications, after-effects of treatments such as chemotherapy and radiation; frequent application of heat and chemicals on hair and others. Let us understand these factors in detail:
- Diet Lacking Nutrients, Vitamins, and Minerals: The health of hair is determined by the intake of proteins, vitamins, and minerals in the diet. As hair is primarily made up of proteins, it is important to include animal-based and plant-based protein in the diet. Further, vitamins such as vitamin C, biotin, and niacin, and minerals including zinc and iron ensure optimal hair growth.
- Anxiety and Stressful Lifestyle: Stress and hair loss can be related. Though stress can mostly cause temporary hair fall, there are certain types of hair loss associated with high-stress levels. Severe stress can push a greater number of hair follicles into the resting phase where they start shedding off the hair. By controlling stress levels, hair follicles can grow back hair.
- Hormonal Imbalances: Hair loss caused by irregular hormonal levels in the body is common. Hair growth is determined by the level of androgen hormones such as DHEA and testosterone. Testosterone is a male hormone and an excess of this hormone might lead to unwanted hair growth on face and body in females. However, lower levels of these hormones might lead to thinning of hair. In women, the level of estrogen changes during pregnancy and menopause and accordingly affects hair growth. Irregular levels of thyroid and insulin can also cause loss of hair.
- Usage of Certain Medications: Hair loss can be a side effect of using certain medications including birth control pills, antibiotics, antidepressants, anticonvulsants, steroids, mood stabilizers, acne medications/ retinoids, anticlotting drugs, high blood pressure medications among others. These drugs interfere with the normal hair growth cycle, causing loss of hair. Drug-induced hair loss is mostly reversible.
- After Effects of Certain Treatments: Certain treatments such as radiation and chemotherapy can cause severe hair loss; not only scalp hair loss but eyelashes, eyebrows, and other body hair as well. Chemotherapy prevents matrix cells that produce new hair, from dividing normally.
- Application of Heat & Chemicals: It is often observed that excessive usage of hair dyes and colours causes dry hair with split ends. The frequent rubbing and combing involved in hair colouring process loosen hair, causing them to fall off easily. Chemicals such as hydrogen peroxide and ammonia in hair dyes and hair colours weaken hair shafts. Peroxide in hair dyes removes pigments from hair shafts that lend the natural hair colour. By removing these pigments, the protein backbone of hair shafts gets disrupted. This leads to breakage of hair shafts, especially at distal ends. Further, the styling of hair into tight buns and braids also causes stress in hair shafts.
How Proteins Determine Growth of Hair?
Barring any underlying illness or ongoing medications and treatments, the health of hair largely depends on the intake of proteins, vitamins, and minerals. Let us understand how consumption of protein can help improve the growth of hair.
Proteins are chains of amino acids that the body requires to perform a range of metabolic processes. Protein requirements in an adult male are 71 grams per day whereas, in female, it is 46 grams per day. For healthy growth of hair, intake of proteins is essential as the hair itself is made up of protein. The benefits of proteins for hair is extensive and hence, some people use topical application of proteins on hair as well to increase the strength of hair. Various protein treatments for hair ensure nourishing hair strands from outside and prevent damage. However, it is important to nourish hair from inside too.
Keratin: The Hair Protein
Keratin is the structural protein that constitutes 80-85% of hair. Keratin provides strength and shape to hair and also balances moisture to keep it healthy. Apart from this strong, fibrous protein that forms hair shaft, hair also contains traces of minerals including zinc, copper, iron, silicon, and calcium.
The human hair growth cycle consists of three phases:
Anagen Phase: Also known as the growth phase that lasts for 3-5 years.
- Catagen Phase: This is a short, transitional phase lasting for around 10 days.
- Telogen Phase: This is the resting phase where hair is released and falls off. The follicle remains inactive for 3 months and the whole cycle is repeated again. For each hair follicle, the growth cycle is different. Hence, only a certain number of hair fall (80-100 hair for a healthy body) off every day.
Various hair problems arise when the growth cycle is disrupted. If body does not get enough protein according to its requirements, the hair growth cycle will be stalled with protein available in body being utilized for more important metabolic functions for sustenance. If a diet continuously lacks proteins, hair strands in growth phase will rapidly enter into telogen phase and shed off. Hence, it is absolutely necessary to include proteins in diet to ensure healthy hair.
What is Whey Protein?
Whey is type of protein found in milk. When milk is curdled during the process of making cheese or homemade curd, whey is obtained as a by-product and is termed as the purest form of protein. Furthermore, research findings have shown that the absorption rate of whey protein in human body is pretty high; approximately 10 grams per hour. On the other hand, the absorption rate of cooked egg protein is about 3 grams in an hour. As a complete protein, it contains all nine amino acids. Owing to the purity of whey protein and its faster absorption rate compared to other forms of proteins, it is being increasingly used in various protein supplements such as protein powders and energy bars. Protein powders containing other forms of protein including whey, soy (for vegans), and casein are also available. However, whey protein is easily soluble in water and hence can be mixed into yogurt, juice, milk, or oatmeal to fulfil protein requirements of body.
Types of Whey Protein:
Whey protein supplements available in market include three main types of whey protein:
- Whey Protein Concentrate: It contains least amount of protein ranging from 58%-89%. Rest of it is composed of lactose, fats, and peptides. Lower end concentrates have 50% whey protein whereas higher end concentrates have 90% protein.
- Whey Protein Isolate: This contains minimum amount of fat and lactose and 95% protein.
- Whey Protein Hydrolysate: Protein powders containing whey protein hydrolysate are most expensive due to their 99% protein content. Considered as the best whey protein supplement, it is the most soluble whey protein or as in chemical terms ‘pre-digested’ form of whey protein.
In a diet lacking proteins, whey protein can help cover up the necessary requirements. As a most soluble form of protein, it can be taken along with milk or juices and easily absorbed by body. Regular intake of whey protein can improve growth and strength of hair. Apart from oral intake of whey protein, external application of liquid whey on scalp is also expected to stimulate hair follicles. Whey protein is also beneficial in curing dandruff and scalp psoriasis.
Benefits of Whey Protein:
Being the most soluble form of protein with low lactose content, whey protein has multiple benefits. It is extensively used by people interested in weight loss and lowering cholesterol. Apart from improving growth of hair, following are some of the widely known advantages of using whey protein supplements:
- Weight Loss: Protein supplements containing whey protein are mainly used for increasing strength and muscle mass. It is a well-known fact that proteins can aid in weight loss by boosting metabolism and acting as a satiating macronutrient. Whey protein helps in fat loss while increasing muscle mass. Studies have suggested that by replacing other sources of calories with whey protein, along with weight lifting, can help in weight loss while preserving lean muscle mass.
- Lowering Blood Pressure, Increasing Antioxidants: According to a study conducted by American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, whey protein may modestly lower blood pressure. Whey and casein have been also found to improve functioning of blood vessels and lower blood cholesterol level. Further, whey protein is said to be enhancing body’s antioxidant defenses. Whey protein contains high amount of amino acid cysteine that raises levels of glutathione, an antioxidant in body. The role of whey protein as promoters of cellular antioxidant pathways is under study.
- Preventing Cardiovascular Diseases: Low density cholesterol poses as a risk factor for cardiovascular diseases. Intake of whey protein is expected to reduce low density cholesterol in blood, thereby lowering the risks of heart diseases.
- Immune Response to Asthma: It has been studied that the intake of whey protein can modestly modulate immune response in children suffering from atopic asthma. However, it is yet to be established whether the usage of whey protein supplements for longer periods might prove more beneficial in such cases.
Concerns Regarding Side Effects of Whey Protein:
Though whey protein has several health advantages, some experts are of the opinion that whey protein might be associated with loss of hair. This seems ironic as consumption of whey protein is considered good for growth of hair. However, in males, it has been found that whey protein causes increase in level of testosterone during intense workout and muscle building exercises. It is believed that high level of the male hormone testosterone causes hair fall and receding hairline in men as the hormone affects hair follicles. Though male-patterned baldness is also known to be hereditary, intake of excess proteins beyond recommended dietary allowance levels can prove detrimental towards hair growth. As whey protein is absorbed more quickly by body compared to other high protein food, it is advisable to keep an eye on the intake of protein powders and shakes and not indulge in overconsumption of whey protein.
Purayati’s Natural Dry Fruit Whey & Milk Protein Powder
Purayati’s Natural Dry Fruit Whey & Milk Protein Powder has been formulated with a blend of protein derived from multiple sources such as whey, casein, and dry fruits. Dry fruits have been added to enhance the taste of protein shakes made with the product. The combination of natural cocoa powder along with actual dry fruit pieces makes Purayati’s Natural Dry Fruit Whey & Milk Protein Powder one of the tastiest protein powder available in the market. It is a complete natural and vegetarian product with no artificial sugar or flavor added. Natural stevia has been added to lend a sweet taste to the powder. One serving of Purayati’s Natural Dry Fruit Whey & Milk Protein Powder offers 50% protein content, making it an ideal product to include in a diet aimed for healthy hair. The product has been manufactured at a well-equipped plant certified with FSSAI and ISO 9001:2008 standards to ensure high quality and efficacy.
A Word of Caution:
Purayati’s Natural Dry Fruit Whey & Milk Protein Powder is to compensate additional requirement of proteins in a regular diet. If you are already on a high-protein diet, please consult a dietician before using the product to avoid intake of protein beyond the recommended daily allowance. Please consult a physician if you are pregnant or lactating or lactose intolerant. Though termed completely safe, whey protein might cause side effects such as low blood pressure or low glucose levels. Over intake of protein might put you at risks of constipation, high cholesterol, and kidney stones.