Is there really such a thing as foods for healthy hair? It does sound a little bit crazy, even for this health coach. However, we do see edible ingredients in hair care products that we apply to our locks, so maybe you CAN have a healthy hair diet. If you really ARE what you EAT, then what exactly are the best foods for healthy hair?
I recently went on a mission to find these healthy hair tips. Fortunately, I’ve only experienced dull or thinning hair during times of hormonal changes, such as post-pregnancy. While my skin is more of a sore subject, I have friends and clients for whom hair is more of a concern.
It turns out that a few years ago at the American Academy of Dermatology’s SKIN academy, Dr. Zoe D. Draelos discussed common causes of hair damage and ways to maintain healthy hair as we age. She said that, “Hair that is not getting enough nutrition from the foods we eat doesn’t grow well and it won’t have that radiant, healthy glow.”
Now we’re on to something. After researching healthy hair tips in more detail, I rounded up the best foods for healthy hair. And here they are:
Protein is one of the most important foods for healthy hair. Lean red meat, poultry and fish are all complete protein foods. Dr. Draelos advises that vegetarians supplement their diet with sources of complete protein.
Iron helps make red blood cells, so that it can effectively carry oxygen throughout the body. An iron deficiency may result in hair thinning or hair loss. Lean red meats are full of protein and iron, killing (or in this case helping) two birds with one stone. Hemp seeds, too, are packed with iron. Legumes such as lentils and kidney beans are also sources of iron-rich protein.
Zinc helps to regulate the production of androgens, which are hormones that can be associated with dry scalp, hair thinning or hair loss. Shellfish such as oysters, crab, and clams are high in zinc. Other foods that contain zinc include liver, lean beef, and wheat germ.
Vitamin C helps your body absorb iron. Fruits and veggies such as broccoli, spinach, kale, green peppers, oranges and other citrus fruits, as well as strawberries are all full of vitamin C.
Biotin is a B vitamin that (among other functions) promotes hair growth and scalp health. Eggs are loaded with biotin. It is also found in peanuts, almonds, wheat bran, salmon, low-fat cheese, and avocados.
Silica is a mineral thought to improve hair thickness, making hair stronger and more durable. What foods contain silica, you ask? Bananas, oats, and raisins are rich in silica. Interestingly, so is beer – though good hair is no excuse for throwing back a few too many!
Vitamin A protects against dull hair and dry skin, a leading cause of dandruff. Some of the top food sources of vitamin A in the U.S. diet include dairy products, liver, fish, and fortified cereals, carrots, broccoli, cantaloupe, and squash. Argan Oil is also rich in vitamin A; and also packed with vitamin E and anti-oxidants. And don’t forget hemp seeds!
Beta-carotene converts to vitamin A in the body, which nourishes both hair and skin. Sweet potatoes are packed with beta-carotene.
Omega-3 fatty acids support scalp health, and a deficiency can lead to dry scalp and dull hair. Good sources of Omega-3 fatty acids include salmon, sardines, herring, mackerel, flaxseeds, hemp seeds, and walnuts. Additionally, many foods today are fortified with Omega-3 fatty acids.
Fat. Here’s a healthy hair tip for you. Healthy hair needs healthy fats to thrive. (And it was no coincidence that I just said “healthy” several times.) If you aren’t getting healthy fats from those lean red meats and fishes, you can get them from other sources too. Nuts, seeds, extra virgin olive oil, avocado (and avocado oil) and flax oil are all examples of healthy fats when used in moderation.
Herbs such as Rosemary and Lavender have been thought to help stimulate hair growth. Thyme may be helpful too, as it is rich in Vitamin A. Lavender is most often applied topically, though today it is also sold in a variety of foods and teas. You’ll find a list of 50 herbs for hair growth here.
The moral of the story is that if you stick to a vibrant, healthy diet that is rich in lean proteins, fish, whole grains, fruits and dark leafy greens, you’ll also be eating the best foods for healthy hair!