General Diet for Healthy Hair
Perhaps you have heard that ancient saying, “You are what you eat.” Come to find out, the health of your hair is a reflection of the foods you choose to eat, or not eat for that matter. A deficiency of any one of the several vitamins and minerals essential for our well-being can determine many aspects of hair health including growth rate, stability, scalp health (dandruff) and hair loss.
The secret to a diet for healthy hair is to support the hair follicles by supplying them with the nourishment they need to thrive. The below ideas will give you a boost for your hair:
Hair is made of keratin, a type of protein, and a diet for healthy hair would inevitably command protein. However, our western diet is seldom deficient in protein and in most cases does not need to be dramatically altered to ensure an adequate intake. Most Americans get plenty of protein, even if they are not following a high-protein diet such as Atkins. Even vegetarians generally get the required amount of protein through whole grains, legumes, and soy products. If you are concerned that your protein intake is low, adding the lean proteins mentioned above, along with wheat germ and nutritional yeast will maximize hair growth and strength.
Vitamins for Healthy Hair
As with every function of the human body, vitamins are an essential ingredient for a myriad of interactions that allow us to operate efficiently and optimally. Medical practitioners and hair specialists have named the following vitamins as part of a diet for healthy hair:
- B-Complex: prevents hair loss; responsible for cellular growth and repair; found in poultry, lean beef, fish, whole grains, nuts, seeds, nutritional yeast, green leafy vegetables, fortified foods (especially for B12 sources).
- Beta-carotene: antioxidant; prevents hair loss; responsible for synthesis of protein; found in green, yellow, and orange fruits and vegetables, sweet potatoes, parsley.
- Biotin: also known as vitamin H; deficiency can cause itchy and scaly scalp; found in whole grains, molasses, nutritional yeast, nuts, fish, egg yolks, dairy products, meats.
- Vitamin C: antioxidant; involved in capillary health; helps with iron absorption; found in most fruits and vegetables, parsley.
- Vitamin E: antioxidant; involved in cellular repair, protein synthesis, and circulation; found in egg yolks, avocados, almonds, wheat germ, whole grains, sesame oil and seeds.
Minerals for Healthy Hair
Just as important as vitamins, there are specific minerals that have been touted as providing the hair follicle with the nourishment it craves for growing strong hair. These include:
- Iron: prevents hair loss and pigmentation; found in dried fruits such as apricots and figs, red meat, green leafy vegetables, red kidney beans, and whole grain cereals; absorption enhanced when eaten with vitamin C-rich foods.
- Copper: responsible for hair color and helps with utilization of iron; found in shellfish, nuts, seeds, nutritional yeast, and mushrooms.
- Zinc: helps to prevent hair loss and dandruff; found in shellfish, brown rice, almonds, lentils, and herring.