Proper Nutrition Can Help
By Colleen Camp, Education Director, BosleyMD
Many people view the appearance of healthy-looking hair as a sign of health and beauty. Like any other part of your body, hair needs an expansive variety of nutrients to grow healthy, strong strands and maintain a healthy scalp.
An important foundation for having healthy hair and scalp is having a nutritious diet, including nutrient-rich fruits and vegetables. Diets lacking key nutrients − high-fat-ladened foods, fast foods and processed foods − may greatly contribute to a hair loss environment.
Since good nutritional uptake is received through blood vessels at the base of the hair structure, it is extremely important to ingest healthy foods to promote growth and prevent shedding. Many studies show that hair loss is linked to nutritional deficiencies.
While factors such as age, genetics and hormones affect hair growth, optimal nutrient intake is a key benefiting factor in the overall scalp and hair health.
Key health factors such as good nutrition, digestive health, exercise, and well-being can be strong contributors to preventing hair loss. Eating the right nutrient-rich foods provides proper nourishment to promote hair growth and can greatly contribute to your hair health, length and density levels.
A healthy diet is important to growing healthy hair. Our hair is one of the first areas to show signs of poor nutrition. Rapid weight loss or crash dieting can lead to dramatic hair loss. Low protein and insufficient vitamins, minerals or amino acids can be damaging to hair cell reproduction and growth. If the nutritional deficiency is big enough — like for someone with an eating disorder — hair can fall out in large amounts.
Common deficiencies that affect the hair are vitamins A, C, B-12 and D, along with zinc, iron, magnesium and chromium. Beneficial ingredients include omega-3 fatty acids such as fish oil, flax seed and walnuts, all high in nutrition and offering anti-inflammatory properties. Horsetail extract helps to strengthen connective tissue. Saw Palmetto, a natural fruit extract, and pumpkin seed oil can help block the formation of dihydrotestosterone, commonly known as DHT.
A healthy hair diet can begin with protein, fresh fruits, vegetables and whole grains while limiting foods that have excessive fat, salt, and sugar. Let’s look at some unexpected food sources to boost hair growth!
Healthy Hair Foods
Eating adequate amounts of protein is important for hair growth because hair follicles are made of mostly protein. A lack of protein in the diet has been shown to cause hair loss. You can consume plenty of protein by eating meat and eggs, but you can also get protein in an array of other foods, all of which can be meat-free and still offer the protein your hair desires. Set a goal of 100 grams per day.
Meat is a great source of protein, which is essential for healthy, strong hair. Red meat, in particular, is rich in iron, which can aid in hair growth. Iron helps red blood cells carry oxygen throughout the body. Iron deficiency is a major cause of hair loss, especially in women. Also taking L-lysine as a daily supplement can help women absorb iron from the foods they eat.
Eggs also are a great source of protein and biotin, two nutrients that promote hair growth. Biotin is essential to produce a protein called keratin, which helps support healthier hair strands.
Beans are a great source of protein, iron, zinc and biotin, which are all essential for optimal hair health. Together, they aid hair growth.
Soybeans are one of the best sources of spermidine, a compound that prolongs the active phase of hair growth and potential stimulator of melanin synthesis for the prevention of hair graying. Who knew you could grow your hair faster and slow the graying process?
Mushrooms are known as one of nature’s superfoods and a great source of vitamin D, ergothioneine and biotin, all known to help increase hair growth.
Brightly colored berries are loaded with antioxidants and vitamins that may promote hair growth. Strawberries are rich in vitamin C, which aids collagen production and iron absorption, two factors that promote hair growth.
Did You Know?
One cup of strawberries provides an impressive 85 milligrams (or up to 113% of your daily vitamin C needs). Vitamin C produces collagen to help strengthen hair to prevent it from becoming brittle, thus reducing breakage.
Spinach is loaded with beneficial nutrients such as folate, iron, and vitamins A and C, all of which can promote hair growth. Spinach is also a great plant-based source of iron, which can help red blood cells carry oxygen throughout the body and aid in hair health.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Fatty fish like salmon, herring and mackerel are excellent sources of omega-3 fatty acids, which have been linked to improved hair growth and density. Fatty fish is also a great source of protein, selenium, vitamin D3 and B vitamins, nutrients that help promote strong and healthy hair.
Salmon is a great source of omega-3 fatty acids, which are anti-inflammatory and can help grow hair and keep it shiny and full.
Avocados are rich in vitamin E, an antioxidant that helps prevent oxidative stress by neutralizing free radicals that can cause hair loss. Additionally, they are a great source of essential fatty acids, which can be crucial for hair growth.
Did You Know?
One medium avocado provides 28% of your daily vitamin E needs.
Sweet peppers are a rich source of vitamins A and C, two nutrients that help hair stay healthy and that may aid in hair growth. Vitamin C helps promote collagen production, which can help strengthen your hair strands.
One yellow pepper provides up to 456% of the daily vitamin C needs of women and 380% for men. It is a powerful antioxidant.
Sweet potatoes are a great source of beta-carotene. The body likes to convert this compound into vitamin A, which is linked to the production of sebum that helps keep hair healthy.
Shrimp is a great source of protein, B vitamins, zinc, iron and vitamin D, which may aid hair growth. They also provide a small amount of healthy omega-3 fatty acids.
Oysters are one of the best sources of zinc when choosing healthy hair foods. This mineral helps the cells responsible for hair support and reparative properties. Zinc supplements have been shown to improve hair loss in women with polycystic ovary syndrome.
I personally have experienced how a healthy hair diet and eating targeted foods can greatly increase hair health and the speed at which hair grows.
As you can see, what you eat can have a huge effect on the health of your hair. Fortunately, correcting a deficiency in any of these nutrients can help treat hair loss and promote the rate of hair growth.