While focusing on which moisturizers to use, and deep conditioners to try, you should also focus on your diet to not only stimulate healthy hair growth, but also prevent hair loss and damage.
Getting the right amount of essential vitamins, minerals and nutrients into your body isn’t as hard as you may think. Foods you enjoy everyday carry well over the minimum amount needed of some of the most important nutrients that support healthy hair growth, length retention, clear skin and strong nails.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids are a collection of polyunsaturated fatty acids that include EPA, DHA and ALA. These acids help lower cholesterol, reduce inflammation in the body and stimulate growth.
Why you need to eat it: Your body cannot produce these fatty acids needed for hair growth. About 3% of the hair shaft is made up of fatty acids that you have to orally absorb through foods or vitamins.
Amount needed per day: 2-4 grams (one cup of walnuts is around 2.5 grams)
Some foods loaded with Omega-3: salmon, walnuts, sardines, shrimp, Brussels sprouts, flax seeds, tofu, chia seeds.
Biotin is a combination of vitamins B7 and H that help the body break down or metabolize certain proteins, carbohydrates and fatty acids; it is essential for bodily health.
Why you need to eat it: It is a soluble substance not easily sustained by the body, so you have to ingest it. However if you are consuming too much biotin, you may develop skin rashes and high blood sugar. (see more about Biotin)
Amount needed per day: 30-35 micrograms per day (one boiled egg has about 25 mcg)
Some foods loaded with Biotin: Eggs (cooked, not raw), almonds, walnuts, goat’s and cow’s milk, halibut, berries, carrots, Swiss chard.
Zinc is a dietary mineral that accelerates the renewal of skin cells and supports a healthy immune system.
Why you need to eat it: Insufficient levels may result in shedding or loss of natural luster.
Amount needed per day: 8-11 mg (vegetarians need 50% more; one serving of black-eyed peas is about 4 mg)
Some foods loaded with Zinc: Oysters, beef chuck, pork chops, dark meat chicken, yogurt, wheat bran/whole-wheat cereals, black-eyed peas, pecans.
Vitamin A is a group of related nutrients that come from animals and plants.
Why you need to eat it: One those groups, carotenoids, functions as an antioxidant needed for prevention of hair loss and healthy scalp. Vitamin A is also responsible for producing oils that sustain your scalp and prevent dry, itchy sensations or even dandruff.
Amount needed per day: .7 mg (one cup of sweet potatoes will get you well past this amount)
Some foods loaded with Vitamin A: Sweet potatoes, mangoes, apricots, pumpkin, carrots, cantaloupe (Can you see a color theme here?).
Iron is an essential mineral that transports oxygen throughout the body, including your hair follicles.
Why you need to eat it: Iron deficiencies can lead to hair loss.
Amount needed per day: 18 mg (about 5 cups of fresh spinach)
Some foods loaded with Iron: Red meat, egg yolk, dark/leafy greens (spinach, collard greens), scallops, turkey, beans, liver, artichokes.
Vitamin C, known as ascorbic acid, is a nutrient found in food that acts as an antioxidant in the body. It improves the absorption of iron and helps the immune system work properly.
Why you need to eat it: Vitamin C is critical for proper scalp circulation, which supports the blood vessels that feed the follicles. Deficiencies in Vitamin C can lead to increased hair breakage.
Amount needed per day: 75 mg (a small orange has about 50 mg)
Some foods loaded with Vitamin C: Red and green chili peppers, guavas, bell peppers, broccoli, oranges, tangerines, kale, cauliflower, pineapple, strawberries.
Incorporating more foods that promote healthy growth for your hair will not only benefit your strands, but also your body and mood. When you eat better, you feel better, your body is fueled with what it needs and you experience greater, long-lasting, bodily health. If you find it hard to eat as much of the right foods as you’d like, and are considering any type of supplements or vitamins, make sure you talk with your physician first!