Much like our skin, healthy hair starts on the inside and comes back to what we feed our body. No amount of hair products can ever make up for a poor diet and nutrient deficiencies. I have experienced first hand how a lack of certain “hair nutrients” and especially inadequate fats (healthy fats that are good for your skin and nails as well) have impacted my hair – and how these in turn have helped repair my hair as well as sped up my hair growth and added shine. What we eat matters on so many levels and here is a list of the most important nutrients for healthy hair as well as what to eat in order to get these nutrients into your diet…
- Healthy fats are one of the most important things to include in your diet when it comes to boosting the health of our hair. They stimulate hair growth and shininess by nourishing the hair follicles from the inside out while also preventing a dry and flaky scalp. A lack of good fats, however, will cause dull lackluster hair prone to breaking and falling out. Some of the best sources of these include avocado, walnuts, wild caught salmon, chia seeds, flaxseeds & flaxseed oil.
- Iron is important as it helps cells carry oxygen to the hair follicles. Low levels of iron on the other hand can lead to anemia, which is a major cause of hair loss in women. Aside from red meat, organic eggs & poultry, kale, spinach & lentils are all healthy sources of iron.
- Another key nutrient for healthy hair is zinc. Zinc boosts hair growth and strengthens the hair, making it less prone to breaking. Zinc is primarily found in animal protein and one of the most potent sources are oysters. Just a single oyster covers us for the day as it provides our entire daily need for zinc (8 mg for women). Other good sources of this beauty mineral are wild caught fish, grass fed lean beef, organic poultry & eggs.
- While all the B vitamins are good for healthy hair, vitamin B5 and Biotin are two particularly important nutrients that have long been known to help prevent hair thinning and hair loss. Biotin helps increase the elasticity of the hair’s cortex, which helps prevent dryness and breaking. Eggs, lentils, nuts & organic Greek yogurt are among the best sources of these two B’s.
- Eating just 1 brazil nut a day gives you twice the recommended daily intake (RDI) of selenium – another mineral that plays a key role in the health of our hair. A single nut packs 95 mg selenium while the RDI is 55mg for women. Aside from promoting healthy hair, selenium is also a powerful antioxidant and essential for a healthy metabolism & reproductive system.
- Vitamin C increases circulation to the scalp and supports the tiny blood vessels that nourishes our hair follicles. Berries, citrus fruit, spinach, broccoli & kiwi’s are all great food sources of vitamin, but be mindful that vitamin C is a very volatile nutrient that oxidizes quickly. Be sure to eat the fruit soon after cutting into it and if making a juice or smoothie to drink it within 10 minutes to absorb as much vitamin C as possible.
Aside from nutrients, massaging the scalp is helpful as it boosts the circulation and stimulates the delivery of nutrient to the scalp area. Minimizing the use of hair dryers and hot flat irons is also key as the intense heat damages the hair and can cause it to break prematurely. Using a good natural shampoo & conditioner without silicone, sulphur and other toxic ingredients that can build up in your hair and scalp is also helpful and increases the lightness of the hair. I highly recommend the herbal hair products from the Australian brand Lariese, which have amazing products. I also love the products from the brand Rahua & the shampoo & conditioners by Neil’s Yard.