How Diet Affects Hair Growth and Health

 

Many people don’t know that what you eat affects your hair. Hair needs vitamins and minerals to grow and it consists of proteins that need to be replenished through a healthy and balanced diet (no cutting out food groups!) in order for its cells to function. This blog has advice on which foods promote hair growth and maintain healthy hair.

One of the first signs of some kind of nutritional deficiency is hair loss and stunted hair growth. This is because hair is not one of the body’s vital organs so it is often first to be affected as it is not a priority. For example, hair loss is a symptom of iron deficiency.

Iron

Foods that are rich in iron (including plant-based sources, as we want all you vegans and vegetarians out there to have healthy hair) include:

  • Dark and leafy green vegetables (e.g. broccoli and spinach)
  • Beans
  • Lentils
  • Tofu
  • Cashews
  • Red meat
  • Organ meats (e.g. liver and kidneys)
  • Turkey
  • Quinoa
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Chickpeas
  • Dark chocolate
  • Beets
  • Watercress
  • Apricots
  • Prunes
  • Figs
  • Soy
  • Pulses
  • Fortified cereals

Protein

Eating enough protein is important for your hair because it is used by the body to convert proteins into the cells that make up your hair, which consists mostly of the protein keratin, giving the hair its strength and elasticity).

Foods high in protein include:

  • Eggs – the amino acids found in egg whites are the most easily absorbed out of any protein
  • Lean/red meat
  • Fish
  • Cheese

Plant-based sources of protein include:

  • Beans
  • Lentils
  • Nuts
  • Tofu
  • Soy
  • Whey
  • Pulses

Complex carbohydrates

Complex carbohydrates are used by the body to convert proteins into the cells that form your hair. A deficiency of complex carbohydrates can lead to hair loss as the body begins to convert stored proteins into energy.

Foods high in complex carbohydrates include:

  • Whole grain toast and cereal
  • Brown rice and pasta
  • Bulgar wheat
  • Baked beans
  • Potatoes with the skin on
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Parsnips
  • Barley
  • Oatmeal
  • Fresh fruit
  • Legumes (chickpeas, beans, seeds, nuts, lentils)

Vitamins

Vitamin B12 is also essential for hair growth. Supplements can be taken but it is better to try to eat high-B12 foods and consult a doctor first.

Foods high in vitamin B12 include:

  • Organ meat
  • Clams
  • Sardines
  • Fortified cereal
  • Tuna
  • Fortified nutritional yeast
  • Trout
  • Salmon
  • Fortified non-dairy milk (soy, almond, rice)
  • Milk and dairy products

Biotin is another vitamin in the vitamin B family, which is also very important for hair growth. It is water-soluble, meaning that it needs to be eaten every day as the body can’t store it on its own.

Foods high in biotin include:

  • Egg yolks
  • Liver
  • Cauliflower
  • Yeast
  • Pork
  • Salmon
  • Nuts
  • Beans
  • Mushrooms
  • Whole-grain products
  • Raspberries
  • Avocado
  • Bananas

Also remember to eat little and often as the energy directed to hair cells drops 4 hours after eating a meal! Hopefully this blog has given you some good advice on how to make sure your beautiful hair is looking its healthiest!