What to eat for healthy hair

Eat the correct balance of the following nutrients including protein, vitamins, and minerals to supply the hair with all that it needs to remain shiny, lustrous, and strong...

Protein

As hair is made of protein, ensuring you have enough protein in your diet is crucial for making hair strong and healthy. If you are not consuming enough protein in your diet, your hair is likely to become dry, brittle, and weak. 

Extremely low protein diets may result in restricted hair growth and even hair loss. Choose chicken, turkey, fish, dairy products, and eggs as excellent sources of protein along with vegetarian sources such as legumes and nuts.

Iron

Iron is an especially important mineral for hair and too little iron is a major cause of hair loss. The hair follicle and root are fed by a nutrient-rich blood supply. When iron levels (serum ferritin) fall below a certain point, you may experience anemia. 

This disrupts the nutrient supply to the follicle, affecting the hair growth cycle and may result in shedding. Animal products such as red meat, chicken, and fish provide iron with high bioavailability, meaning the iron is readily available to the body. 

Vegetarians can raise their iron stores by including lentils, spinach, and other leafy green vegetables such as broccoli, kale, and salad greens.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C aids the absorption of iron so foods high in vitamin C are good to eat in conjunction with iron-rich foods. Vitamin C is also an antioxidant so is used readily by the body. The best sources are blackcurrants, blueberries, broccoli, guava, kiwi fruits, oranges, papaya, strawberries, and sweet potatoes. Vitamin C helps in the production of collagen which strengthens the capillaries that supply the hair shafts.

Omega-3

Omega-3 fatty acids are important fats our bodies cannot make themselves, and therefore must be obtained through our diet. Omega-3s are found in the cells that line the scalp and also provide the oils that keep your scalp and hair hydrated. Include oily fish such as salmon, herring, sardines, trout, mackerel, and plant sources like avocado, pumpkin seeds, and walnuts.

Vitamin A

Vitamin A is needed by the body to make sebum. Sebum is an oily substance created by our hair's sebaceous glands and provides a natural conditioner for a healthy scalp. Without sebum, we may experience an itchy scalp and dry hair. Include animal products and orange/yellow colored vegetables which are high in beta-carotene (which makes vitamin A) such as carrots, pumpkins, and sweet potatoes.

Zinc and selenium

Scalp protection involves other important minerals, notably zinc and selenium. A lack of zinc can lead to hair loss and a dry, flaky scalp. Fortified cereals and whole grains are a good source of zinc along with oysters, beef, and eggs.

Vitamin E

The sun can damage our hair just like it can damage our skin so ensure you eat foods rich in vitamin E to provide protection for your hair. Nuts are nutritional powerhouses, providing zinc and selenium as well as vitamin E so try to include them as part of a balanced diet.

Biotin

Biotin is a water-soluble B vitamin. Too little biotin can cause brittle hair and may lead to hair loss. Include biotin-rich foods such as whole grains, liver, egg yolk, soy flour, and yeast.

Natural treatments

Make your own hair mask for a deep, nourishing treatment every two weeks. Whisk an egg yolk and mix with half a mashed avocado and a spoonful of honey. Massage onto damp, clean hair, and leave for 30 minutes before rinsing thoroughly.

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