On your quest for healthier, longer hair, you’ve made some positive lifestyle changes. You’ve thrown out all your toxic products, purchased a silk pillowcase and reduced your use of hot tools. Now you’re wondering how you can improve the health and growth of your hair from the inside out. You know increasing your water intake and reducing the stress in your life will help but what should you eat to improve hair health? Below, I’ll give you a crash course on vitamins and minerals known to improve hair function as well as the superfoods that contain them. Bonus: “You are what you eat” so get ready to look and feel better overall too.
VITAMINS AND MINERALS
Iron: Proper intake of iron boosts circulation which helps carry oxygen to hair follicles, promoting hair growth. Iron is very important because a deficiency can lead to anemia and also hair loss.
Zinc: Helps follicles generate sebum (oil) which moisturizes strands and helps stimulate cell reproduction which leads to more efficient and better quality hair growth.
Vitamin A: Essential for sebum production which helps moisturize hair and keeps it strong and healthy.
Vitamin B(s): You’ve probably heard about Biotin when it comes to hair health but all B vitamins help contribute to red blood cell production which is crucial when it comes to hair growth. More red blood cells means more oxygen to the hair follicle, helping promote growth.
Vitamin C: A powerful antioxidant, vitamin C also helps with the production of collagen, an essential part of hair health and growth. Vitamin C also helps absorb iron.
Vitamin E: Another powerful antioxidant, vitamin E fights free radicals and helps reduce oxidative stress, allowing your hair cells to function properly and produce strong, healthy strands.
Selenium: A trace mineral, Selenium assists enzymes and also helps kill dandruff-causing fungus. Selenium is essential to the proper function of the thyroid and helps regulate hormones. Out-of-whack hormones can lead to hair loss and thinning.
Vitamin D3: Boosts immunity while also stimulating cell growth. Healthy cell growth means healthier follicles and therefore healthier strands.
Protein: Whether plant or animal-based, protein is crucial for healthy hair and growth because hair is comprised mostly of the protein keratin.
Omega 3s: An essential fatty acid; the body does not produce them but they are necessary for proper bodily function and must be absorbed from food or supplements. Omega 3s are excellent inflammation fighters and also help increase circulation which promotes hair growth.
FOODS FOR HEALTHY HAIR
Avocados: The healthy-fat Queen, avocados also contain Vitamin E which helps protect the scalp, reducing follicle damage.
Fatty Fish: Fish such as salmon, herring and mackerel all contain essential Omega 3s which have been linked to increased hair growth. They are also a good source of protein and selenium.
Nuts: Chock-full of vitamin E, B vitamins, zinc and Omega 3s, nuts also help reduce inflammation in the body which supports healthy hair function and growth.
Eggs: Eggs offer lots of hair-healthy nutrients such as protein, biotin, zinc, selenium, vitamin D3 and B vitamins.
Beans: An excellent source of plant-based protein, they also contain zinc which promotes hair growth and aids in repair. Beans also contain iron, biotin and folate.
Sweet Potatoes: Just one cup of sweet potato contains 23 mg of beta-carotene. The body converts beta-carotene into vitamin A which is essential for healthy hair.
Berries: Famous for being a great source of antioxidants, berries also contain vitamin C which helps with the production of collagen while also helping the body absorb iron.
Spinach: This superfood is brimming with nutrients; Vitamins A, C K, iron, folate and potassium for starters; all which are necessary for healthy hair.
Lean meat: Protein is the star player found in meat and acts as the “building blocks” of the body; building and repairing everything from bones, muscles and hair strands.
Whether you are wanting to tweak an already healthy diet, or start from scratch, think “baby steps”. Focus first on adding nutrient-dense foods rather than taking away all your guilty pleasures. Once you start noticing positive improvement with your hair and bod, you may find it easier to continue making healthy changes. If it feels overwhelming to start, schedule an appointment with a nutritionist to help get you going and add a multivitamin, probiotic and hair supplement to your daily routine. Keep in mind that more isn’t better when it comes to vitamins and minerals and taking more than the recommended daily amount can actually have adverse effects, such as hair loss (!) so do your research and speak to your doctor before making any major changes.