Food for Healthy Hair
Most of us are aware of the external factors that influence our hair quality and texture, such as the drying effects of chlorine, blow dryers, and so on. However, what we eat can also play an important role in the growth and appearance of hair.
What does food have to do with it?
What you eat on a daily basis provides your body the nutrients required to repair and grow new cells. A foundation of good nutrition helps the production and regeneration of all bodily tissue, including your skin, nails, and hair.
Your hair grows, on average, between one-quarter to one-half an inch each month. This growth is dependent on the proper nutrients and a healthy scalp. There are many foods that provide these necessary elements, as well as some that are directly harmful.
What foods are best?
The following foods are some of the most recommended for optimal hair health:
- Salmon – full of omega-3 fatty acids, which have been shown to improve scalp health. Lack of these may cause dryness, which can lead to dandruff or dull looking hair. Salmon also has a lot of protein, which is very important for hair growth, as well as vitamin B-12 and iron.
- Flaxseed oil – also rich in omega-3 fatty acids, and a good option for vegetarians.
- Dark green leafy vegetables – have tons of iron, and also calcium, another hair healthy mineral. This type of food, which includes vegetables spinach, broccoli, and chard, is a wonderful source of vitamin A and vitamin C. These two vitamins are essential for the production of sebum, which is the oil your hair follicles release to moisturize and protect your hair.
- Legumes – like lentils and beans, are packed with protein to encourage growth, and enriched with iron, zinc, and biotin. These minerals have all been linked to healthier hair.
- Nuts – brazil nuts are one of the best natural sources of selenium, which is another critical component in scalp health. Many nuts contain omega-3 fatty acids as well. Walnuts, cashews, pecans, and almonds also have large amounts of zinc, which helps prevent hair loss.
- Poultry – provides the protein necessary for hair growth, healthy texture, and color. It is also a great bioavailable (easily absorbed) source of iron.
- Eggs – another great protein source, and rich in vitamin B-12 and biotin.
- Whole grains – full of zinc, iron, and B vitamins.
- Oysters – chock full of zinc.
- Low fat dairy – is rich in calcium, another mineral crucial to your hair growth. Dairy products also provide excellent protein sources with whey and casein.
- Carrots – a great source of vitamin A, which helps keep your scalp healthy.
What should I avoid?
If you eat a healthy, balanced diet, you should be getting all the nutrients you need for healthy hair. However, there are a few things you should keep in mind:
- Some people take large amounts of vitamin A in supplement form. Excessive vitamin A consumption has been linked to hair loss.
- Some strict diets can lead to deficiencies in many of the vitamins and minerals you need for healthy hair and can thus lead to a decrease in the rate of hair growth, an unhealthy and dull hair appearance, and even hair loss.
- Smoking and consuming alcohol and caffeine can inhibit the absorption of many vital nutrients, thus causing your hair to have a less healthy appearance.