It's normal to lose about 50 to 100 strands of hair every day, says MayoClinic.com. Your hair naturally goes through a growth, rest and loss cycle, with new strands growing to replace the lost strands. But if you notice your hair falling out excessively or thinning noticeably, dietary factors could be at play. MayoClinic.com states that nutritional deficiencies can cause hair loss, especially insufficient protein intake. Whey protein, a popular protein supplement, may be helpful in this situation.
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What is Whey Protein?
Whey is a type of protein found in milk. Your body absorbs whey protein better than any other type of protein, according to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign McKinley Health Center. For this reason, whey is a popular protein for supplement powders, bars and drinks. Whey protein powder also is available at many supermarkets, drugstores and health-food stores; it can be easily mixed into milk, juice, smoothies, oatmeal or yogurt to add roughly 20 to 26 grams of protein to your beverage, meal or snack. Whey protein drinks and bars are marketed as snacks or post-workout recovery beverages, and vary in their protein content. Check the product label for details.
Protein and Hair
Hair is largely made of protein, according to nutritionists Joannie Dobbs, Ph.D., C.N.S., and Alan Titchenal, Ph.D., C.N.S., of the University of Hawaii at Manoa. Sufficient protein intake, therefore, is essential to support the proper growth and regrowth of your hair. The University of Illinios at Urbana-Champaign McKinley Health Center notes that the general recommendation for protein intake is 0.8 grams of protein for each kilogram of body weight. However, athletes in training may need more.
Safety and Side Effects
Whey protein is generally considered safe. However, as with other supplements, whey protein can cause adverse side effects and problematic drug interactions for some individuals. MayoClinic.com states that whey protein can cause low blood sugar, low blood pressure and increased bleeding in certain people, and should be avoided if you have a milk allergy, are pregnant or are breastfeeding. Always consult a physician for medical approval before taking whey protein supplements.
Several other potential causes for hair loss and thinning exist besides protein deficiency. Extreme stress, hypothyroidism, other hormone imbalances, illness or surgery, rapid weight loss and other nutrient deficiencies can also contribute to abnormal hair loss. If you are concerned about hair loss and regrowth, consult your physician. She may want to conduct tests to rule out problems such as a thyroid disorder. If your hair loss is associated with nutritional deficiencies, your physician or a registered dietitian can help determine the necessary dietary changes.
- MayoClinic.com; Hair Loss Causes; July 2011
- University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign McKinley Health Center; Creatine and Whey Supplements; 2008
- University of Hawaii at Manoa; Hair Loss in Women Has Contributing Factors; Joannie Dobbs, Ph.D., C.N.S., et al.; 2010
- MayoClinic.com; Whey Protein Safety; August 2011