8 Diet Tips for Strong, Healthy Hair
The secret to strong, healthy hair? It's not a special shampoo or expensive dietary supplements. It is a balanced diet packed with hair health promoting vitamins, minerals and other nutrients! The paragraphs below present 8 diet-related tips that can help you obtain and maintain the strong, healthy hair you have always dreamed of.
#1: Include Enough Protein in Your Diet
Hair is more than 90 percent protein, and a diet that is too low in protein may cause slow hair growth or hair loss. Protein is abundant in a wide range of foods, particularly in foods of animal origin. A typical Western diet usually contains sufficient amounts of protein and eating additional protein for hair growth is not necessary. Even though hair is made of protein, excessive amounts of dietary protein are unlikely to improve hair growth and may cause other health problems.
#2: Consume Plenty of Foods Rich in Silica
In 1939, the Nobel Prize winner for chemistry, Professor Adolf Butenandt, proved that life cannot exist without silica (also known as silicon dioxide). In humans, silica is essential to the development of the skeleton. It is also an important component of hair, and an adequate intake of silica is thought to prevent baldness and stimulate hair growth.
Silica is present in substantial amounts in a wide range of foods, including potatoes (particularly the outer layers), strawberries, green and red peppers, cucumbers, oats, barley, wheat, millet, rice, bean sprouts, and asparagus. Processing of foods as well chemical treatments of the soil in which the vegetables and grains grow can significantly decrease the silica content of foods. Therefore, it is advisable to opt for organically grown, unprocessed foods.
#3: Be Sure to Get Enough Copper and Zinc
Although our bodies require only a small amount of copper, it is crucial for the proper functioning of the body, including healthy hair growth. Sufficient levels of copper can prevent hair loss and contribute to hair thickness. Copper is also thought to intensify hair color and prevent premature graying of hair. Another trace mineral that is important to hair health is zinc. It plays a role in the production of new cells (including hair cells) and the maintenance of the oil-secreting glands of the scalp that make hair shiny.
Zinc and copper should be consumed together as the balance between the two is crucial: too much zinc interferes with copper absorption, and higher amounts of copper can be toxic. Black sesame seeds, which the Chinese used for promoting hair growth and restoring hair color, are an excellent source of both copper and zinc. Also chia seeds and garlic are excellent dietary sources of this hair health promoting mineral-combo.
#4: Add Foods Rich in Vitamins C and E to Your Diet
Vitamin C is required for the synthesis of collagen which in turn supports hair follicles and keeps blood vessels in the scalp healthy. Vitamin C also increases iron absorption from foods. To enhance the beneficial effects of vitamin C on hair, eat foods rich in vitamin C with foods that boast vitamin E, an important vitamin that is thought to keep hair shiny and elastic. It may also help hair growth faster due to its ability to boost circulation to the scalp. Vitamin C and vitamin E protect each other and are more effective when consumed together.
#5: Eat Foods High in Vitamin A and Beta-Carotene
Vitamin A promotes the growth of healthy cells and tissues, including hair and the scalp. A deficiency of vitamin A can cause thickening of the scalp, dry hair, and hair loss. Beta-carotene, which is found yellow/orange and green vegetables and fruit such as spinach, carrots, sweet potatoes, winter squash, mango, melon and apricots, also promotes healthy hair due to its anti-oxidant properties as well as its role as a precursor to vitamin A.
#6: Step up Your Vitamin B Intake
If you are aiming at having healthy-looking lustrous locks, be sure to eat plenty of foods rich in B vitamins. B vitamins are in essence a complex of vitamins that often work together and co-exist in the same foods. Evidence suggests that a sufficient intake of the B vitamins, particularly of vitamins B6 (pyridoxine), B2 (riboflavin), B9 (folate), B7 (biotin), B5 (pantothenic acid) and B3 (niacin), is necessary for healthy hair.
Pantothenic acid and biotin are thought to slow hair loss and prevent graying of hair. Pyridoxine helps the body produce melanin, which gives the hair its color. It also prevents hair loss and facilitates the absorption of zinc. In addition, pyridoxine, together with folate and riboflavin, helps form hemoglobin (blood cells). Hemoglobin is needed for transporting oxygen from the lungs to the other tissues in the body, including hair. Undisrupted supply of oxygen is necessary for healthy hair.
#7: Ensure a Sufficient Intake of Iron
Iron carries oxygen to the hair, and an inadequate intake of iron may cause the hair follicles to starve of oxygen. In fact, depleted iron stores appear to be one of the most common causes of hair loss in pre-menopausal women. Interestingly, iron deficiency is also the most common form of nutritional deficiency. Women who are menstruating (especially if they have heavy periods), women who are pregnant or have just given birth, long-distance runners, and vegans have a particularly high risk of being deficient in iron. To prevent or correct this deficiency, eat more iron-rich foods such as dried fruits, egg yolks, liver, lean red meat, oysters, poultry, salmon, tuna and whole grains.
#8: Be Sure to Eat Enough Sulphur-Containing Foods
Sulphur is a mineral that is found in all cells of the human body and that is particularly abundant in our hair, skin, and nails. Sulfur is often referred to as 'nature's beauty mineral' because of its capability to aid in good blood circulation, reduce skin inflammation, and promote hair growth. It also plays a role in the metabolism of several important B-vitamins including B1, B5 and B7. First signs of a sulphur deficiency often include loss of hair, brittle hair and nails, and dry skin.
Although present in the human body, sulphur can only be obtained through diet. Sulphur is found in all protein rich foods, meats, fish, eggs, milk and legumes being particularly rich sources of this mineral. Garlic, cabbage, onions, turnips, kale, lettuce, brussels sprouts, kelp, seaweed and some nuts also contain sulphur.
For further diet-related information on growing and maintaining healthy hair, see: