Nutrition is one of the major factors that affect our health and well-being. A balanced diet that contains a variety of nutrients is associated with stronger and healthier hair. Well-balanced menu for our hair would provide a whole range of macro and micro nutrients including, but not limited to proteins, omega-3 fatty acids, zinc, iron, calcium, and significant number of vitamins.
Here are 10 examples of foods your hair will thank you for:
- Meat and poultry — a great source of high quality protein (meaning it provides all the necessary amino acids), iron (with a higher availability for absorption comparing to an iron form plant sources), zinc, and most of the B family vitamins. These nutrients are essential for hair growth and strength.
- Fatty fish — salmon, mackerel, herring, and sardines are rich in omega-3 fatty acids required to prevent dryness of scalp skin and hair.Flax seeds are a plant-based alternative for the omega-3 fatty acids provision.
- Eggs — another excellent source of protein, along with zinc, vitamins B, and sulfur. The later is involved in the creation of keratin – a key structural material in our skin, nails, and hair that contributes to hair strength and shine.
- Dairy products — milk, yogurt, kefir, and cheese are the best source of calcium and phosphorus. Both minerals are involved in a wide range of body processes, including building and repairing tissues mechanisms that are necessary for hair growth and strength.
- Legumes — beans, peas, and lentils are a good source of plant proteins, iron, zinc, and vitamins B family, one of which is vitamin B7. This vitamin and coenzyme, also known as biotin, performs multiple metabolic tasks in our body, one of which is synthesis of amino acids – building blocks for cells and tissues, including skin and hair.
- Nuts — are also rich in fatty acids, iron, selenium, vitamin E, and zinc needed for hair loss prevention and optimal growth.Vitamin E and Selenium also act as antioxidants and play a major role in protecting cells from oxidative damage.
- Whole grains — oats, quinoa, buckwheat, barley, bulgur, and brown rice provide vitamins B along with zinc and magnesium - a mineral participating in tissues building, and therefore essential for a strong hair.
- Orange and red fruits and vegetables — sweet potato, pumpkin, carrots, cantaloupe, and apricots are rich in beta-carotene that is converted to vitamin A in our body and is essential for soft tissues growth. Oranges, tomatoes, peppers, and strawberries are an excellent source of vitamin C – an antioxidant that plays a significant role in iron absorption andcollagen formation. Collagen is an important protein for skin elasticity and hair strength.
- Green fruits and vegetables — broccoli, spinach, lettuce, artichokes, avocadoes, and grapes provide us with beta-carotene, calcium, and vitamins C and B. Folate or vitamin B9 which is a part of vitamins B family, acts as a coenzyme in hemoglobin creation, prevention of anemia and hair loss.
- Water — is vital to keep your scalp skin and hair hydrated from the inside. 8-10 glasses a day is a general recommendation. Urine color can be a good indicator of your water consumption: being it close to clear means you drink an adequate amount of fluids.
In addition to these recommendations, it is important to avoid restrictive diets that have a negative effect on our hair (and our health in general). Frequent low-calories regimens for an express weight loss (or other strict rules omitting entire food groups not justified by a medical condition) might result in higher hair breakage and loss. Adequate nutrition, balance, and variety combined with the right hair care are the keys for its longevity and vitality.
B.Sc. Nutr., Intuitive Eating Specialist