What to eat for healthy hair
You can tell a lot about a person’s health from their hair. As with skin and nails, our hair is an outward sign of our general health. When we don’t get enough nutrients, our hair, skin and nails suffer the consequences.
If we don’t feed our hair properly, then our hair will be dull and lifeless until it grows out and is cut off, and this cycle will continue until the new hair is nourished properly.
Problems associated with a poor diet can include premature greying, hair loss and dull, brittle hair that breaks easily.
The Trichological society says that “many of the metabolic requirements of follicle cells (minerals and vitamins) must be satisfied for optimal hair growth” (click here to read more).
Shampoos, conditioners, treatments and other haircare products do a great job of coating the hair and making it look better temporarily, but they only work from the outside and can’t repair the damage already done by bad nutrition or make hair stronger, prevent grey or stop it from falling out.
So what to eat for healthy hair?
Luckily, if we feed ourselves the correct nutrients, the difference can be seen quite quickly. New hair cells being created will be much healthier and as the hair grows through, you will notice better condition and more lustruous hair. For long hair, it can take up to two years to see a difference throughout the full length, but shorter hair will be noticeable in a matter of months.
The following nutrients are all essential for healthy hair, and easy to get from a healthy, balanced diet.
Biotin can help to prevent hair loss from brittle hair breaking too much. Foods rich in biotin include wholegrains, eggs and liver.
Folic acid is important for helping cells and tissue grow, including hair cells. Including folic acid daily in the diet can help regulate hair growth and prevent premature greying.
A lack of iron in the diet can be a major cause of hair loss. If iron levels drop, resulting in anaemia, it can disrupt the nutrient-rich blood supply to the hair follicles, affecting growth and potentially resulting in shedding. Foods rich in iron include dark green leafy vegetables like spinach and kale, and red meat.
Vitamin C aids the absorption of iron so is essential to include in the diet alongside iron (and preferably in the same meal too). Vitamin C also aids the production of collagen in the body which aids hair health, and is a powerful antioxidant which helps to protect cells from damage caused by free-radicals from pollution, smoking and sun exposure.
Vitamin C is found in citrus fruits, broccoli and red peppers.
Vitamin E is another powerful antioxidant that protects our hair cells from damage caused by sun exposure and pollution etc. Vitamin E is found in almonds, sweet potatoes and avocado.
Zinc is an important nutrient for scalp health. A lack of zinc can lead to hair loss and a dry, flaky scalp. Zinc is found in fortified cereals, oysters and eggs.
Now that we know what to eat for healthy hair… what about food supplements?
For people who have food allergies or intolerances to certain foods and might not be getting all of the required essential nutrients (e.g. a vegan who is gluten-free might not be getting enough biotin in their diet), or people who might not be getting as varied a diet as they could be because of a busy and stressful lifestyle, a supplement is always a good idea to boost your nutrient intake.