As a woman, there’s nothing more frustrating than worrying about your hair. You want it to look good for as long as possible and that means taking care of it!
And while you can't do much to change your genetics, there are many other factors that can affect the health of your hair, including nutrition.
In this article, we will discuss what nutrients are essential for healthy hair growth, which foods are the highest sources of these nutrients, and what food should be avoided to keep your hair looking healthy and attractive.
Which Nutrients Should You Eat to Prevent Hair Loss?
What causes thinning hair in women? Hair loss is caused by weak hair follicles, which result in hair fall. Over time, the follicles become weaker and more prone to breakage. Even the capacity to regenerate and keep new hair decreases.
To prevent hair loss, it's important to eat a well-balanced diet with plenty of these nutrients:
A vital nutrient for healthy hair, Biotin helps to stimulate keratin production needed to increase the rate of follicle growth. By strengthening hair and hair follicles, you promote and protect your hair length, lessening the chance that it will break off or fall out.
If that's not enough, it is also attributed to shine, thickness, and scalp coverage.
Biotin is a water-soluble B-complex vitamin that the human body cannot produce naturally. As such, topical treatments won't work because it needs to be ingested for them to be effective.
Vitamin A is what helps your body produce sebum. Sebum is an oily substance produced by our scalp's sebaceous glands, which serves as a natural conditioner for a healthy scalp.
If you don't have enough sebum in your body, it may lead to an itchy scalp and dry hair. In other words – damage leads to hair loss.
Necessary for the production of keratin, Vitamin C is a protein that helps keep the healthy cells in the skin and scalp strong. It also helps because it aids in the absorption of iron.
Vitamin C promotes collagen synthesis, which helps to strengthen the capillaries that feed the hair shafts. A lack of this important vitamin will over time lead to poor quality hair growth.
Another nutrient that plays a role in maintaining healthy skin cells that line your scalp and produce sebum is Vitamin D.
This vitamin helps regulate hormones involved in producing keratin – one of the main components of both skin cells on your scalp as well as your hair.
When you don't have enough vitamin D, the result is often dry, brittle hair that is susceptible to breakage and further loss.
A powerful antioxidant nutrient that can help to prevent hair loss and damage is vitamin E. This vitamin helps to protect cells from damage by free radicals, produced as a result of normal metabolism, and sun exposure.
Additionally, vitamin E strengthens the root of hair follicles and prevents scalp conditions such as dandruff which is one of the main causes of hair loss. This is because vitamin E is a vital nutrient for the maintenance of healthy mucous membranes. This vitamin also helps with the retention of moisture in the scalp by acting as a natural lubricant.
Without sufficient Vitamin E in your diet, your hair may become dull, dry, and more likely to fall out.
Too little iron is a major cause of hair loss. A nutrient-dense blood flow nourishes the hair follicle and root. You may develop anemia if your iron levels fall below a certain threshold. This disrupts the supply of nutrients to the follicle, which affects the hair growth cycle and may result in hair loss.
Omega 3 Fatty Acids
Like biotin, Omega 3 Fatty Acids are nutrients that our bodies cannot create on their own and must be obtained through our food or supplements. Omega-3s can be found in the scalp's cells, which line it and supply oils that keep your hair and scalp hydrated and healthy.
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A critical nutrient for healthy hair growth and a healthy scalp, Zinc can slow down hair loss and restore hair growth. A deficiency of this nutrient can lead to hair loss because it affects the protein, TGFb1, which plays a large role in stimulating hair growth.
Foods high in protein are required for strong and healthy hair. A deficiency can lead to excessive shedding, dry and damaged hair follicles, and weakened hair.
While there may be many reasons for this, from anxiety or stress to infections or medication side effects, one thing you can do as a result of all of it is to make sure that your diet contains enough protein.
Protein is found in both animal and vegetable sources, so regardless of whether you're a meat-lover or a vegan, your hair can benefit from this diet either way.
Now that you know what nutrients are needed to prevent hair loss and rather support healthy hair growth, next we'll take you through the best foods to help increase your intake of these nutrients.
What are the Best Foods for Healthy Hair Growth?
Other than lacking nutrients, there are many other things that can affect the health of your hair – Genetics, age, hormones, etc., Yet, the one thing you can control is what you eat.
Here we will take you through the top 27 surprising, or maybe not so surprising, foods rich in the necessary nutrients for your healthy hair growth:
Biotin Rich Foods
- Whole grain
- Dark, heavy greens
Vitamin A Rich Foods
- Raw carrots
- Sweet Potatoes
Vitamin C Rich Foods
- Citrus Fruit (oranges, kiwi, grapefruit, tangerines)
- Red peppers
- Berries (strawberries, blueberries, acai, and goji berries
Vitamin D Rich Foods
- Fortified foods
- Shitake Mushrooms
Vitamin E Rich Foods
- Sunflower seeds
Iron Rich Foods
- Black beans
Omega-3 Fatty Acids Rich Foods
- Oily fish (Salmon, sardines, trout, and mackerel
Zinc Rich Foods
- Pumpkin seeds
Protein Rich Foods
What are the Worst Foods for Your Hair Health?
Now that you know what nutrients and foods you need for healthy hair growth, it's also important to note the foods that you need to avoid if you want healthy hair growth. The following 5 foods not only discourage healthy hair growth but can cause further loss and damage.
I'm sure this one doesn't come as much of a surprise. Sugar is just hazardous to your hair as it is to your general health. Insulin resistance, which causes diabetes and obesity, can also cause you to lose hair, or even lead to hair loss. A diet high in sugar, starches, and processed carbohydrates is the number one cause of insulin resistance and even hinders the absorption of protein.
2. Starchy, Refined Grains with a High-Glycemic Index
Following on from the point above, white bread, cakes, pastries, white pasta, and other refined, over-processed carbohydrates are transformed into sugar in the body, causing hair loss. These meals might induce hormonal imbalances and cause an insulin and testosterone spike that binds hair follicles and causes hair loss. So, stick to whole grains, like brown rice instead.
As you now know, the protein called keratin makes up the majority of your hair. Alcohol has a detrimental effect on protein synthesis and can result in hair loss, and, at the very least, cause lackluster locks. Furthermore, excessive alcohol consumption can cause nutritional imbalances and induce follicle death.
Alcohol also depletes Zinc in your body, which is essential for hair health and growth. Drinking alcohol dehydrates you, making your hair more brittle. If you're looking for an excuse to leave the alcohol-fueled evenings behind you, this may be it!
4. Diet and Carbonated Drinks
Artificial sweeteners called aspartame are found in diet and carbonated drinks and can greatly damage hair follicles. If you're having trouble with your hair, diet soda could be contributing to the situation.
5. Junk Food
Other than leading to obesity and cardiovascular diseases, junk foods are full of saturated and monounsaturated fats. These elevate testosterone and DHT hormone levels which can lead to hair loss. On top of that, these bad kinds of oily foods clog up your pores, shrink hair follicles, and create that unappealing greasy scalp.
A bad diet leads to hair loss as well as so many other health problems. So here's some encouragement to eat and drink better. Your health and hair will definitely thank you for it!
While changes to your diet may be challenging for you, we hope you understand better that your hair damage also originates from what you put inside your body.
Remember that the hair that is currently on your beautiful head, was made from nutrients and foods that you ate months ago! And while there's no overnight fix, a couple of weeks or months of ingesting good nutrition may be all the proof you need to continue.
And most importantly, if you continue to experience severe hair loss, consult with your doctor or health care provider. Sometimes good nutrients, hairdryers, and shampoos are just not enough to repair the damage already done, and you may need other supplements to restore your hair.