17 foods that will give you better hair
Is your crowning glory letting you down? Experts reveal the key foods and nutrients your hair needs to be healthy and luscious.
As the old saying goes, “you are what you eat” – and when it comes to hair, it certainly rings true.
A recent US study found that as hair grows millimetre by millimetre, dietary intake is visible in both the quality and condition of strands.
The Longevity Remedy nutritionist and naturopath Michaela Sparrow confirms that like skin, the condition of our hair directly reflects what is put into our bodies.
“Healthy hair requires you to meet your daily nutritional needs,” Michaela says.
“So if you’re deficient in certain nutrients, it will show up in your hair through things like hair loss, slowed growth or dry and brittle hair.”
Hair stylist and educator Paula Hibbard says when nutrient intake is on point, hair will appear “shiny, grow more rapidly, have good elasticity and minimum breakage”.
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Best foods to eat for healthy hair
Meat, chicken and eggs
Hair that is weak, dry, brittle or even falling out can be a by-product of a diet that is lacking in either protein, iron or both.
Animal products like lean meat, poultry, fish and eggs rank highly among both protein and iron-rich food sources.
Nuts and seeds
For vegetarians, nuts and seeds are a great non-animal source of both protein and iron.
Almonds offer the highest protein levels followed by walnuts, pistachios and cashews. In the seed stakes, pumpkin seeds, flax seeds and hemp seeds are all rich in both protein and iron.
When iron intake improves, Michaela says hair growth should get a boost.
“Hair should start to grow back in areas it was lost and there should be less falling out,” Michaela says.
Milk, cheese and yoghurt
Dairy foods are loaded with calcium, another essential nutrient for optimal hair health.
“When a diet is lacking in calcium, the hair may start thinning or there may even be an excessive amount of hair loss,” Michaela notes.
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Broccoli and dark green leafy vegetables
But the potential hair-improving benefits of these foods don’t stop there.
Green vegetables also contain vitamins A, C and E, which are crucial for hair health.
“Vitamin A plays a role in the sebum production process, which moisturizes the scalp,” Paula says.
“Vitamin C goes hand in hand with helping the body absorb iron, which is essential for hair health and growth. Increasing vitamin E aids in scalp health and shinier hair.”
“Folic acid does wonders for hair growth,” Michaela says.
Strawberries, blueberries and raspberries are rich in vitamin C, which helps support iron absorption to ultimately result in stronger, healthy hair growth.
Oysters and other zinc-rich foods
“A diet lacking in zinc is often a major contributor to hair loss,” Paula says.
“You might also find the scalp becomes flaky and dry, as zinc affects the oil production glands.”
Upping your dietary zinc intake minimises hair loss and strengthens hair – and oysters are one of the most naturally zinc-rich foods available.
Michaela adds there are also zinc-laden alternatives like “pumpkin seeds, chicken and turkey”.
Salmon, tuna, mackerel and sardines
If there’s something fishy going on with your strands, you may be lacking in Omega-3.
“When a diet lacks Omega-3, the hair may become very dry and brittle, the scalp could become quite itchy and there may even be dandruff visible,” Michaela says.
To improve hair’s thickness, strength and shine, Michaela recommends making Omega-3 fish such as salmon, tuna mackerel or sardines your catch of the day.
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Written by Sharon Hunt.