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.
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:
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.
L-cysteine is an amino acid and a component of keratin.
It also helps form collagen in the skin barrier and may have an anti-aging effect on wrinkles.
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.
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.
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.
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 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 also provides plenty of other important nutrients, including iron, calcium, and folate.
A 3-oz serving of cooked beef liver provides 30.8 mcg of biotin, which is 103% of the 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.