Hair requires certain key nutrients to keep the cells that make up its strands healthy. Studies show a correlation between nutritional adequacy and hair health. By eating the right amount of vitamins and minerals, hair can become shiny and strong. Weak and brittle hair can be the result of a lack of protein, iron, zinc, or vitamin E, A, B, and C. Biotin and omega-3 are also very good for hair health.
Since hair is comprised of protein, it is important to make sure that you have enough of the nutrient in your diet so that your hair is strong and stays healthy. Your hair will become weak, dry and easily breakable if you are lacking protein in your diet. In the case of significant protein deficiency, hair loss can be the result. Choose protein in the form of eggs, chicken, fish, turkey and dairy. For vegetarians, nuts and legumes should be diet staples.
The mineral iron is important to the hair follicle. Anaemia, or poor iron levels in the body will cause major hair loss. In the case of anaemia a reduced supply of nutrients are reaching the follicle and this affects the hair growth cycle which results in shedding. Meaty foods such as animal products in the form of red meats, fish and chicken offer a high amount of iron that is able to have an active effect in the body. Vegetarians are able to increase their iron intake by consuming more lentils, leafy green vegetables such as spinach, broccoli and kale.
The absorption of iron is aided by vitamin C. It is best to have iron dense foods with a diet high in vitamin C. Vitamin C is an antioxidant that aids in the production of collagen which strengthens the blood capillaries supplying the hair shafts. This therefore supports hair growth. Good sources of vitamin C are oranges, blueberries, papaya, blackcurrants, sweet potatoes and strawberries.
Omega-3 fatty acids are important for the body. Though these fats are not made in the body omega-3’s are very good and essential for hair health. Omega-3’s help to keep your scalp hydrated and these fats can only be obtained through diet. Good sources of Omega-3 fatty acids are salmon, mackerel, sardines, trout and herring. Other plant based sources can be found in walnuts, flaxseeds and avocado.
Sebum is an oily secretion made by the hair glands that act as a natural moisturizer. Vitamin A is needed for the production of sebum. Without that substance the hair would become very dry and the scalp very itchy. Orange and yellow vegetables are usually high in carotene which is then converted to vitamin A in the body. Examples of foods to choose from are carrots, sweet potatoes, pumpkins and squash.
Zinc is a vital mineral for the health of hair. Zinc protects the scalp from flaking and dryness. A lack of zinc can lead to hair shedding or hair loss. Foods that contains good sources of zinc include whole grains, beef, spinach and beans.
Vitamin E is important because it provides hair protection from that sun that can be damaging. Nuts are both high in zinc and vitamin E therefore it should be included in your diet for healthy hair.
Biotin also known as vitamin H is a complex B vitamin that can be found in egg yolk, nuts, legumes, bananas, whole grains and organ meats such as liver. Biotin is very good for your hair and deficiency can lead to weak and brittle hair.
Good foods for your hair:
- Berries are high in antioxidants which keep your hair follicles healthy.
- Asparagus is high in a natural mineral called silica that increases hair health and shine.
- Oranges and citrus fruits contain vitamin C and forms of collagen which is needed to keep hair conditioned and healthy.
- Swiss chard contains vitamin C, A, K along with iron, magnesium, potassium, and biotin. This food helps to keep hair soft yet growing strong.
- Chia seeds is packed with protein, vitamin B, iron, zinc, alpha-linolenic acid and copper. Protein stimulates hair growth, copper delays hair greying, vitamin B promotes hair shine, iron helps with hair and scalp oxygenation and alpha-linolenic acid prevents hair loss.
- Fish is high in omega-3 fatty acids which encourages thick and full hair.
- Beans are part of a class of legumes that have protein, zinc and iron which help to make hair stronger and longer. Beans contain biotin that with help to strengthen brittle hair.
- Figs have a high amount of calcium that help to form collagen in your hair resulting in long and luscious bundles.
- Kale contains iron, magnesium, potassium, vitamin A and C which all prevent dandruff and flaky dry scalp.
- Whole grain bread/rice is a great source of zinc which aids in hair growth that is thick, long and strong.