Have long, healthy locks is almost everyone’s goal, but reaching that goal requires the appropriate combination of nutrients and fuel.
An optimal hair health diet includes fiber-rich produce, 100 percent whole grains and healthy fats – here are some foods to help achieve that:
1. Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3 fatty acids provide multiple advantages, from heart health and brain functioning to hair follicle health and balance of hair growth cycles – including new hair growth while also decreasing thinning. These healthy polyunsaturated fats help nourish hair follicles as well as your overall wellbeing, which in turn allows new hair growth without excessive thinning.
Your omega-3 intake can be increased through eating fish such as salmon, mackerel, sardines and trout as well as flaxseeds or chia seeds; you could also take an omega-3 supplement that includes both EPA and DHA.
Vitamin C is vital to the wellbeing of both scalp and hair health. It supports collagen formation while aiding iron absorption – two minerals known to promote hair health. Kiwi fruits, berries, citrus fruits, sweet peppers and broccoli all offer plenty of Vitamin C while dark leafy vegetables and whole grains also contain ample amounts.
Biotin is a water-soluble vitamin that assists the body in processing fats, carbohydrates and proteins while supporting healthy skin, nails and hair. Adults need 30 micrograms of biotin each day through diet; supplements may also be effective.
Focus instead on eating foods abundant with this nutrient – such as egg yolks, avocados, nuts, berries, kale and dark leafy greens are excellent sources. Also try increasing fish consumption for extra protein and omega-3 fatty acid intake.
Protein is essential to healthy hair, skin and nails because they contain keratin which relies on protein for its formation and repair. A deficiency can result in hair loss, brittle strands or weak nails – symptoms which could potentially erode overall wellbeing.
Consuming foods rich in protein can help increase the thickness and luster of your strands, but supplementation may be necessary if you don’t get enough from diet alone. Consult a doctor or nutritionist to find what will work best for you.
Focus on getting complete proteins (those containing all essential amino acids), like those found in meat, dairy and eggs. Include plant-based sources like lentils, beans and peas as well as quinoa and tofu as plant sources of essential amino acids. Try this protein hair pack: Beat one egg with yogurt then apply to scalp and hair for 30 minutes for best results.
Iron is an essential nutrient for maintaining healthy hair, supporting growth and strengthening existing strands. Iron contributes to haemoglobin production in red blood cells that carries oxygen throughout your body – including to your scalp! Deficits in iron may lead to hair loss; thus it is wise to consume foods rich in this mineral.
Lean meats provide an excellent source of iron, biotin and zinc. Gorin suggests adding one or two servings of beef, chicken or turkey per week into your diet for optimal results.
Sardines are another nutritious choice, boasting both biotin and omega-3 fatty acids for optimal hair health. Try including them in salads or using them as toppings on soup bowls. Fruits provide another excellent source of iron – one cup of strawberries contains enough iron to supply an entire day’s needs; plus vitamin C which aids collagen formation on scalp and hair follicles.
5. Vitamin A
Vitamin A deficiency can result in dry hair, so it’s vital that we consume foods rich in this nutrient. Sweet potatoes and orange produce such as carrots and cantaloupe are great sources of Vitamin A; other excellent sources include leafy greens and squash (including pumpkin).
Salmon, sardines and mackerel are high in both protein and omega-3 fatty acids; egg yolks contain biotin for added benefit. Other protein-rich options include chicken, turkey and lean meats.
Dark leafy greens such as spinach and kale contain essential vitamins and nutrients such as Vitamin A, iron, folate, beta carotene and calcium. Just one cup of kale meets more than half your daily requirement of Vitamin C while other sources such as guavas, kiwifruits and papaya also boast abundant amounts of this important nutrient.