Nutrition and Hair

What is healthy hair? How do we get it? These questions lead us to buy products that promise to mend our hair. We buy special vitamins targeted towards hair growth. We stick to a schedule of trimming split ends and try not to color it too often. These are great habits to stick in order to care for your hair, but how can your diet affect healthy hair growth?

“To a doctor,” says dermatologist Amy McMichael, MD, “healthy hair is hair that’s growing appropriately out of every follicle, not easily broken, and connected to a healthy scalp…. it’s hair that’s as long and full as you’d like it to be. It’s bouncy, shiny, and manageable.”

So how can foods like salmon, leafy greens, eggs, nuts and sweet potatoes help us get the healthy hair we want?

  • Protein is important for beautiful, healthy hair. Hair and nails are made up of a protein called keratin. Without enough keratin, hair stops growing and falls out. Protein-packed foods include salmon, Greek yogurt, nuts, and protein powders.
  • Iron also aids in the production of healthy hair. Iron keeps the blood flowing and delivering necessary nutrients to hair follicles. Great foods for iron include iron-fortified cereal and grains, beef, organ meats, and dark leafy greens.
  • Vitamin C is important to include with iron, as it helps the body absorb iron. Get your vitamin C with foods such as leafy greens and guava (guava has more than 4 times the recommended amount of vitamin C!)
  • Vitamin A and beta carotene are another important pair. Together, these two stimulate a gland in the scalp to produce sebum, which keeps our hair shiny and moisturized. Turn to foods such as sweet potatoes, mangoes, pumpkin, and carrots to get the benefits that vitamin A and beta carotene have to offer.
  • Zinc could be something missing from your diet, causing hair loss. Eggs, nuts, oysters, sweet potatoes, and spinach can help give you the zinc boost you need.
  • Vitamin B is the vitamin to turn to when you want your hair and nails to grow. Eggs are a great source of vitamin B!

If you think thin, brittle hair might be a side-effect of missing vitamins or nutrients, feed your hair! Your doctor or nutritionist can also help you identify any deficiencies you may have.