The nutrients in certain foods can boost keratin production in the body, helping to strengthen the skin, hair, and nails. Examples of these foods include eggs, salmon, onion, sweet potato, and more.

Keratin is a protein that helps maintain the structure of hair, nails, skin, and the lining of the internal organs. Certain nutrients support keratin production.

This article looks at the benefits of keratin and lists some food sources that may help maintain healthy levels of keratin in the body.

A bowl full of keratin-rich foods. Certain foods can help support keratin production.Share on Pinterest
Image credit: Robert Murray/Getty Images

Keratin is a building block of the human body. Keratins are tough proteins that form the structure of epithelial cells.

These cells line surfaces inside and outside the body. They help make up the tissues in the skin, hair, and nails. Epithelial cells also form the lining of the internal organs and glands.

Protein is important for growth and repair of the body, including:

  • muscles
  • bones
  • skin
  • tendons
  • ligaments
  • hair
  • eyes
  • tissues

In particular, keratin helps make the cells in hair, skin, and nails stronger and more resilient and helps reduce damage to the tissues from friction.

Keratins also help:

  • regulate the size of cells
  • allow cells to move, grow, and divide
  • heal wounds

Nutrients that help produce keratin

Certain nutrients help the body produce keratin and may help improve the health of the skin, hair, nails, and other tissues.

A person can help their body produce keratin by making sure they eat foods that contain these nutrients.


Biotin plays an important role in keratin production and can support the healthy growth of hair and nails.


L-cysteine is an amino acid and a component of keratin.

Cysteines are also important for forming collagen, maintaining the skin’s elasticity, and metabolizing biotin so the body can use it.


Zinc is an important nutrient in skin health. It supports the reproduction of keratinocytes, the cells that produce keratin.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C supports the formation of keratinocytes and helps protect the skin from oxidative stress.

It also helps form collagen in the skin barrier and may have an anti-aging effect on wrinkles.

Vitamin A

Vitamin A plays a role in the development of keratinocytes.

It is essential for replacing skin cells and for the healthy function of the ears, eyes, and lining of the internal organs.

The following foods are excellent sources of the nutrients that support keratin production in the body. They also provide other essential vitamins and minerals.


Since keratin is a protein, it is important to eat protein-rich foods for keratin production.

Eggs are a good source of protein, with one large egg containing 6.24 grams (g) of protein. Eggs also contain many other important nutrients, including calcium and vitamins B12 and A.

One cooked egg contains 10 micrograms (mcg) of biotin, which is a third of the Daily Value (%DV).


Onions contain N-acetylcysteine, an antioxidant that the body uses to form L-cysteine.

One small, raw onion also provides 5.18 milligrams (mg) of vitamin C, as well as zinc and B vitamins.


Salmon is a good source of protein, with 7.31 g of protein in 1 ounce (oz) of cooked salmon. The same amount also contains 0.139 mg of zinc.

Salmon is also a good source of biotin, with 5 mcg of biotin in 3 oz of salmon. This is 17% of the DV for biotin.

Sweet potato

Sweet potatoes are high in vitamin A.

One medium sweet potato weighing 150 g provides 1,150 mcg of vitamin A. Sweet potatoes are also a good source of vitamin C and provide a small amount of zinc.

Half a cup of cooked sweet potato also contains 2.4 mcg of biotin, providing 9% of the DV.

Sunflower seeds

Sunflower seeds are rich in biotin, containing 2.6 mcg of biotin per 0.25 cup, providing 9% of the DV.

A 1-ounce serving of shelled sunflower seeds contains 1.5 mg of zinc, as well as B vitamins and vitamin E.


Mango is high in vitamins A and C, both of which are important in the production of keratin.

One mango weighing 207 g provides 112 mcg of vitamin A and 75.3 mg of vitamin C.


Garlic contains N-acetylcysteine, which helps in the production of keratin.

Garlic also contains other cysteine, which can help maintain healthy skin and help the body metabolize biotin.

A 2016 study also found that garlic helped protect keratinocytes from damage due to ultraviolet rays.

This was a test-tube study, and the researchers noted they required further evidence in animal or human studies to confirm their findings.


Kale is a nutrient-rich food containing high levels of vitamins A and C. One cup of raw kale weighing 25 g contains 125 mcg of vitamin A and 30 mg of vitamin C.

Kale also provides plenty of other important nutrients, including iron, calcium, and folate.

Beef liver

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), beef liver is one of the highest food sources of biotin.

A 3-oz serving of cooked beef liver provides 30.8 mcg of biotin, which is 103% of the DV.


Carrots are high in vitamin A. Half a cup of raw carrots provides 459 mcg of vitamin A, which is 51% of the recommended DV.

One medium carrot also contains 3.6 mg of vitamin C, as well as zinc, B vitamins, and vitamin K.

Keratin is an important protein for healthy hair, skin, and nails. It is also an important part of the lining of the internal organs.

Certain foods contain nutrients that support the formation of keratin in the body. These nutrients include biotin, vitamin A, and zinc.

Eating a healthful diet that includes these nutrients may help maintain healthy levels of keratin and provide other essential nutrients.