Nutrition Tips for Healthy Hair
Beauty comes from within, especially when it comes to your hair. The effects of good nutrition are indirect and slow to appear, but they are instrumental in healthy hair growth, strong nails and glowing skin. Often first signs of a poor diet and nutrient deficiencies on the inside present themselves with outward symptoms. Dry, brittle lack-luster hair and hair loss can be symptoms of a poor diet or specific nutrient deficiencies.
The health of your hair can be affected by many factors such as chronic illness, hormone imbalances, medications, genetics, stress, alcoholism, smoking, age and malnutrition. The living part of the hair is under the scalp skin where the root is housed within the follicle. It derives nutrients from the blood. When there are nutrient deficiencies in the body they show up as a decline in the speed of growth (normally 1cm/month) and as dry, dull hair that breaks. Deficiencies in protein, iron, zinc, B vitamins and essential fats can all result in unhealthy hair and nails.
Protein is the building block of Keratin, the protein which forms hair and nails. Protein deficiency can lead to thin brittle hair, slow growth or hair loss. Some of the best sources of protein are packed full or other nutrients that also benefit hair health.
Oily Fish: salmon, mackerel, sardines and trout are excellent sources of protein that also contain omega 3 fatty acids which not only nourish the cells of the scalp preventing dryness but also help condition the hair adding luster and shine. Other sources of omega 3 include flax seeds, walnuts and fish oil supplements. Aim for 2-3 servings per week of fish or 2g of fish oils as a supplement.
Nuts: Walnuts, Brazil nuts and almonds are sources of protein and are also rich in zinc. A zinc deficiency affects the hair follicle and can show up as fragile, dry hair and hair loss. Other sources of zinc include meat, egg, seafood, oysters and dairy.
Eggs: Excellent source of protein in the white and the yolk is a source of biotin, which activates certain enzymes and aids in metabolism of nutrients. Brittle hair can indicate biotin deficiency. Other sources include whole grains, liver and soy.
Chicken and Beef: Not only excellent sources of protein and zinc, but also of iron. Iron deficiency is one of the most common causes of weak, thin hair and hair loss in women. It affects the creation of new hair cells. Other sources of iron include fish, legumes and dark green vegetables.
Dairy: milk, yogurt, cheese and whey protein powders are excellent sources of high quality protein which help strengthen and thicken the hair and improve hair growth. They are also sources of calcium which helps with hair growth.
Vitamins and Minerals:
Vitamin C is an essential component of collagen and blood vessel integrity which helps support blood flow to the hair follicle. Vitamin C also help improve iron absorption from legumes and whole grains. Getting enough vitamin C can help prevent hair breakage. The best sources of vitamin C are fruits and vegetables such as citrus fruit, kiwi, peppers, broccoli and berries.
B vitamins are also important in preventing hair loss and dandruff. Good sources include dairy products, meat, fish and poultry as well as whole grains.
Silicon is the 3rd most abundant trace mineral in the human body. Research shows a higher silicon content in the hair results in a lower rate of hair loss and increased hair brightness. The most bioavailable form is Orthosilicic Acid (OSA) bound to choline and is available as a supplement.
A healthy diet every day full of fruits and vegetables, quality protein and good fats can help improve the health of your hair.