Essential Nutrients for Healthy Hair
A balanced diet can provide numerous benefits — a good nutrition can lower your risk of developing a range of chronic diseases and even help you handle stress better, but did you know your diet also affects the health and look of your hair? Just like skin, the condition of your hair is an outward sign of inside health. The cells that make up each follicle of hair require a regular supply of key nutrients.
Adding a few varied ingredients to your diet is easy, practical and an inexpensive way to promote healthy tresses. The following vitamins and minerals will provide you with the necessary balance to supply your hair with all it needs to remain strong and healthy.
Ensuring you have sufficient amount of protein in your diet is important for making your hair full and vibrant. If you are not consuming enough protein in your diet, your hair is likely to become dry, brittle and weak. Protein deficient diets may result in hair loss. Lean meats such as fish are the easiest way to pack protein into your body along with vegetarian sources such as nuts, soybeans and whole grains.
Iron is an especially important mineral that helps hair follicles grow. When one experiences a deficiency of iron, they may experience hair loss and baldness. Iron is especially important to healthy tresses, because it helps cells carry oxygen to hair follicles. The best sources of iron are red meat, chicken and fish. They provide iron with a high bioavailability, meaning the nutrients are readily available for absorption. Alternatively pair meatless sources, such as soybeans or lentils, with a vitamin C-rich food like an orange to boost iron absorption.
Vitamin C is an all-in-one solution by itself—it is an antioxidant that is readily used by the body. It assists our bodies in the production of collagen that strengthens the capillaries that supply the hair shafts. An adequate amount of Vitamin C may also prevent both discoloration and hair loss. In addition, it boosts blood circulation throughout the body, ensuring your scalp is as healthy as possible. Some recommended sources of Vitamin C are blueberries, broccoli, guava, kiwi, oranges, papaya, strawberries and sweet potatoes.
Introducing more omega-3 fatty acids into your diet promotes shinier and richer looking hair. Omega-3s support scalp health and also provide the natural oils that keep your hair hydrated. Deficiency in essential fatty acids can otherwise result in a dry scalp or dandruff. Try fatty acid rich fish such as salmon, sardines, and trout and plant sources including avocado, spinach and walnuts.
Vitamin A importance to your hair is skin deep; it produces a conditioning substance for the scalp known as sebum. Sebum is natural oil created by our hair’s sebaceous glands and provides an essential conditioner for a healthy scalp. A low production of sebum may have you experiencing an itchy scalp and dry hair. Including colored vegetables in your diet that are high in beta-carotene (which makes vitamin A), such as carrots, pumpkins and sweet potatoes are a great way to boost your vitamin A intake.
In addition to helping the immune system function properly, zinc plays a significant role in scalp protection and has the ability to produce new proteins that are building blocks of strong hair. A lack of zinc can lead to hair loss and a dry, flaky scalp. Cashews, green beans and soybeans are a great source of zinc along with oysters, lobster and lean beef.
The sun can damage our hair just like it can damage our skin. Make sure you consume foods rich in vitamin E to provide protection for your hair. As an antioxidant, vitamin E contributes to your hair’s overall health by fighting off harmful free radicals. Good sources of vitamin E include sunflower seeds, almonds, cabbage, asparagus and avocados.
Possibly the most recommended supplement for hair health is biotin. Also known as vitamin H, biotin can improve hair that is splitting or thinning. Biotin deficiencies are not common because our own bodies produce this vitamin. In cases where a person may produce low levels of biotin, it can cause brittle hair and may lead to hair loss. A balanced diet with biotin rich foods such as bananas, beans, eggs and salmon should help maintain your natural biotin production.
Essential Nutrients for Healthy Hair