The Positive Effect of Foods on Keratin Levels

Parul Dube

May 15, 2022

Keratin is a prominent name in the beauty industry. From keratin-rich hair products to keratin treatments, one can find various hair and skin products on market shelves. It is not just helpful in strengthening and repairing your hair but also helps maintain skin and nails. In addition, recent research has shown its effect on preventing liver injury, promoting wound healing, and protecting embryos. To better understand keratin, its functions, and know about the foods that can boost keratin levels. 

Keratin: Introduction

It is a fibrous protein that is a part of the epithelium, the outermost layer of your skin and hair. A study found 54 keratin gene types which are molecularly diverse.

Keratin protein helps in maintaining the mechanical stability of tissue. In addition, they maintain integrity and ensure the proper functioning of the cells. Few types of keratins are involved in mechanisms like wound healing and apoptosis. Apoptosis is the automatic cell death of unneeded and abnormal cells. This process is critical to preventing cancer. Keratin also helps cope with stress and protects the body’s tissues. 

Effects of Keratin on Your Body

Keratin for Hair

Keratin protein has desirable effects on the hair, including moisturising and softness. According to a study, keratin is a significant component of the hair cortex. It contributes to the strength of the hair shaft. It implies that these functional keratins mend the hair from damage associated with chemical treatments like bleaching. They also repair damage from the heat, which comes from regular curling or straightening. It also helps in restoring the mechanical strength of damaged hair fibres. 

Keratin for Skin

As per a study, keratin plays a significant functional role in the integrity and mechanical stability of the epithelial cells of the skin. These stable cell-to-cell contacts form a continuity to form sturdy tissues.

Dynamic Effects of Keratin

A study suggests that keratin helps protect the placenta and the embryo. Another research has proven the role of keratins in protecting cells from its death. Data also shows that keratins protect the liver against stress and prevent injuries. A study shows that keratin helps in the wound healing process. 

Nutrients Required for Keratin Formation

Keratin formation requires certain nutrients, such as inositol and biotin.


In a study, inositol was required for the differentiation and maturation of keratinocytes, the keratin-forming cells. Inositol-rich foods, therefore, are one of the best ways to boost the rate of keratin formation. The study shows that the most significant amounts of inositol were present in fruits, beans, grains, and nuts. Fresh vegetables and fruits contain more inositol than their canned or frozen counterparts. There is no recommended dietary requirement for inositol by our body. However, consuming inositol in small amounts boosts the keratin levels in our bodies. In addition, research has also found inositol to be effective in managing diabetes and PCOS.


Research suggests that biotin, also called Vitamin B7, promotes the growth of hair and nails. In addition, it can boost keratin production, which strengthens the nails and improves skin appearance. Biotin is a water-soluble vitamin, so your body doesn’t store it. As a result, you need to consume it regularly to maintain the levels. Eggs, nuts, mushrooms, and sweet potatoes seem to have good levels of biotin. A diet rich in biotin may help in improving glycemic control and brain function.

Foods that Help Boost Keratin Levels


This food helps boost keratin production because of a significant concentration of biotin. The yolk is especially rich in biotin, essential for enhanced keratin production. Cooking your eggs increases biotin absorption. Eggs are also great for getting protein into your body. According to the USDA, 100 grams of egg can give you about 10.7 grams of protein.


It contains copious amounts of L-cysteine. L-cysteine is an amino acid that forms a significant part of keratin. Some studies also suggest that garlic may aid in skin problems. But, again, it is because of the keratin boosting capacity of garlic. Consuming garlic is also an excellent way to sneak in beneficial micronutrients like Vitamin C and Selenium.


Peanuts and soybeans are the richest sources of biotin. A study has shown that 100 grams of peanuts had about 17.5 mcg of biotin. One study researching biotin content in various foods has 19.3 mcg of biotin in a 100-gram serving of whole soybeans. However, it is crucial to soak legumes before consumption to remove tannins that interfere with the absorption of essential nutrients. One can eat legumes in multiple forms. Boiled forms of Legumes are just as palatable as the stir-fried forms. It is also a great way to get fibre, vital for digestive health. Legumes also include minerals like calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, sulfur, and potassium.


Cooking can never be complete without onions in it. One can use onions in various forms: raw, caramelised, roasted, fried, or pickled. It makes onions a versatile vegetable. According to a study, this vegetable is exceptionally high in N-acetylcysteine, which metabolises into L-cysteine. According to USDA, Onion also has trace amounts of biotin, which helps boost the keratin levels. Onions are also a substantial source of potassium and iron.

Sweet Potatoes

Baked sweet potatoes are just the right amount of sweet and delicious treats for our palate. These sweet potatoes are full of vitamins, minerals, fibre, and carotenoids. According to a study, vitamin A plays a significant role in keratin regulation. They also have biotin, which is essential for keratin formation. It makes sweet potatoes the best energy source and helps you boost your keratin levels. Sweet potatoes have also been effective in healing some skin conditions like epidermolysis bullosa.


These delicious fruits will satisfy your soul and boost your keratin synthesis. According to a study, they are an excellent source of Vitamin A, which is essential in keratin regulation. Mangoes are also fat and cholesterol-free, which is beneficial if you are trying to reduce your fat intake. It also has micronutrients required by the body, like Vitamin C and Vitamin B6.

Sunflower Seeds

Seeds are savoury and flavourful snacks. You can roast and toss these seeds with salt to make a healthy snack replacement. They are also an excellent source of both biotin and protein that support keratin production. According to research studying the biotin levels in various foods, 100 grams of Sunflower seeds pack up to 7.5 mcg of biotin. They are also a significant source of folate, which helps hair growth and prevents greying of hair.


It contains loads of vitamin A, vitamin C, and other essential minerals and vitamins. They are also an excellent source of biotin. Combining vitamin A and Biotin helps to boost keratin synthesis. One can consume carrots in raw forms, such as salads or roasted. They are perfect for healthy snack alternatives. 


It is a green leafy vegetable known for its high nutrient properties. Kale is rich in beta-carotene, the antioxidant which turns into vitamin A, which helps in keratin synthesis. According to a study, Kale is an excellent source of vitamin A.100 grams of Kale provides 600 mcg of vitamin A, which is more than its daily requirement.


They are an excellent source of unsaturated fat, a good fat with potential health benefits. According to research, most nuts also provide biotin, but the amount varies by type. According to another study, 100 grams of roasted and salted almonds contain 0.5 mcg of biotin. There are various ways to eat nuts, like raw or in roasted form. They are perfect as healthier alternatives for snacks.

Cantaloupe and Citrus Fruits

Cantaloupe and citrus fruits, except lemon, have extraordinary levels of inositol, as per several studies. Fresh fruits have much higher levels of inositol than their frozen and canned counterparts. Inositol is important in the maturation of keratinocytes and in boosting keratin levels.

Side Effects of Irregular Keratin Production

Dysregulated levels of keratin pose several problems and may cause diseases. Understanding skin is essential to understanding why increased keratin levels pose a threat. The skin comprises three layers: the epidermis, the dermis, and the hypodermis.

These skin layers differ in their thickness, pigmentation, and appendages. The epidermis comprises multiple layers of maturing keratinocytes: the basal layer, the spinal layer, the granular layer, and the corneal layer. In 20-40 days, the epithelium peels off. The external movements of cells occur from the basal layer during the maturation process. The basal cells are the younger non-mature cells. The cells in the corneal layer are the most differentiated keratinocytes. Keratin of high molecular weight covers the outer layer of cells. As the cycle completes, these cells of the corneal layer undergo desquamation (shedding).

Constant exposure to skin injury leads to an increased proliferative rate of the keratinocytes. The keratinocytes mature and produce more keratin. In these instances, the thickness of the corneal layer increases. Because of the continuous formation of cells, the number of defective cells increases. Defective keratin formation leads to cellular collapse and blistering. The hyper-proliferative process leads to increased and defective keratin formation is hyperkeratosis. 

Follicular hyperkeratosis, or keratosis pilaris, is a skin condition characterised by excessive development of keratin in hair follicles. It leads to rough and elevated bumps. The openings are often closed with a white plug of sebum. It occurs because of malnourishment. It is advisable to consume vitamin A, which acts as a regulatory mechanism to prevent defective keratin formation.

Epidermolysis bullosa occurs because of a mutation in the keratin forming genes leading to defective keratin formation. According to a study, Epidermolysis bullosa is an inherited skin disorder that leads to blister formation on the skin. The skin is fragile in this condition. 

Decreased Keratin Productions

Keratin is an essential component of hair. Reduced keratin levels in the body lead to increased hair damage and a hair fall rate. There is also a decrease in the hair’s strength. Keratin-deficient skin is vulnerable to injury and is very fragile. For example, the fingernails break due to low levels of keratin. Liver injuries are also common in keratin-deficient states. Hence, it is advisable to consume keratin-boosting foods to avoid these problems.

The Bottom Line

Keratin protein acts as a significant support component to the structure of skin, hair, and nails. It also helps in wound healing and prevents injury to the liver. There are multiple problems associated with both increased and decreased production of keratin. While increased keratin production rate causes skin problems, reduced production rates make you more prone to injuries. Decreased keratin production affects hair and nails. Hence, it is crucial to consume keratin boosting and regulating foods. Biotin and inositol are the major nutrients that boost the keratin levels, while Vitamin A regulates keratin production.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. What foods to avoid if keratin is high?

A. There are many keratin-boosting foods like cabbage, mangoes, nuts, eggs, and sunflower seeds to avoid if the keratin levels are high. However, eating vitamin A-rich foods like carrots, sweet potato, salmon, and liver is essential. Vitamin A is a regulatory vitamin that helps decrease the levels of defective keratin. 

2. How can I reduce the keratin in my body?

A. By consuming vitamin A-rich foods like carrots, sweet potatoes, salmon, and liver help reduce keratin levels in the body. Vitamin A acts as a regulatory agent and decreases excess and defective keratin. In addition, gentle exfoliation of the skin may help to remove excess keratin. 

3. What causes too much keratin?

A. Constant exposure to skin injury results in an increase in the proliferative rate of the keratinocytes. The keratinocytes also mature faster and produce more keratin. In such instances, the thickness of the corneal layer increases. Because of the continuous formation of cells, the number of defective cells increases. It compromises the barrier function of the skin. Defective keratin formation also leads to cellular collapse and blistering. This hyper-proliferative process that leads to increased and defective keratin formation is hyperkeratosis. This hyperkeratosis stimulates the excess production of keratin. 

4. How to increase the keratin levels in the hair?

A. Eating biotin and inositol-rich foods increases the keratin levels in your hair. These include cabbage, mangoes, nuts, legumes, eggs, and sunflower seeds. Keratin also reduces hair damage and increases the strength of the hair. In addition, keratin smoothens and strengthens the hair. 

5. Do beets help kidneys?

A. Beetroot provides multiple health benefits. However, it has high oxalate content, which may cause kidney stones. It is alright to consume beets in moderate quantities. However, consuming an excessive amount of beets might harm your kidneys. 

6. Can drinking water lower keratin?

A. No, drinking water can not reduce keratin levels. No study provides an association between water and keratin levels. However, you can reduce keratin levels by consuming Vitamin A-rich foods.

7. Which oil is rich in keratin?

A. A study suggests that peanuts are rich in biotin, enhancing keratin production. However, other oils such as Bhringraj oil, Argan oil, Almond oil, and Neem oil, known as keratin-rich oils, do not have any studies backing them up. 

8. Does keratin cause hair loss?

A. Excess keratin in hair follicles might lead to hair loss. As the keratin formation increases, increases in defective keratin occur. It leads to fragility and decreased strength of hair, causing hair loss. 

9. Can keratin be vegan?

A. Keratin present in hair treatments and shampoos is not vegan. One can extract keratin from the feathers, hooves, hair, and horns of animals. However, vegan food like nuts, sweet potatoes, cabbage, legumes, and mangoes can boost keratin levels. 

10. Does rice water have keratin?

A. No, rice water doesn’t contain keratin. Rice water treatment has become a popular means of treating hair damage. Rice water seems to be rich in vitamins and amino acids. However, there is no scientific evidence to back up this claim, and the research is inconclusive.

About the Author

Parul holds a Masters of Medical Science in Public Health Nutrition from the University of Glasgow, Scotland, and has worked across the globe from the U.K to New Zealand (NZ) gaining her License with the Health Professionals Council (HPC, UK) and the NZ Nutrition Council. From being a Gold medalist in Clinical Nutrition to being awarded an internship with World Health Organisation (WHO, Cairo, Egypt) and Contracts with CDC Parul has had a wide spectrum of work experiences. She is very passionate about Nutrition and Fitness and holds strong to her guiding mantras ‘ Move more’ and ‘Eat Food that your grandmother can recognize’!

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