There is no denying that diet plays a very important role in keeping the hair and skin healthy. The foods we consume have a great impact on the growth, strength, and volume of our hair. “The fact that we all tend to forget is that hair grows from roots, so to keep it healthy, it is important to focus on scalp health and hair follicles,” says dermatologist Nivedita Dadu, founder chairperson, Dr Nivedita Dadu’s Dermatology Clinic, New Delhi.
How does diet impact hair growth?
Certain nutrients can support and improve hair growth. Hair follicles are constantly creating new hair. The foods people eat affect the hair growth and its quality. Certain proteins, fats, vitamins, and minerals are especially important for strong, healthy hair. Eating a varied and nutritious diet can also boost nail and skin health. The changes will be most noticeable in people who previously had vitamin or nutrient deficiencies. Even so, it may take a while to see the positive results, in terms of hair growth.
What factors affect hair growth?
As people age, they may notice that their hair does not grow as quickly as before and that it is less thick. Some follicles may stop producing new hairs, leading to hair thinning or loss. This results from a combination of genetics and natural ageing processes like childbirth, stress, thyroid conditions and certain health conditions like alopecia can cause more sudden loss of hair.
Nutritious eating can also help prevent signs of unhealthy or damaged hair including dryness, brittle texture, dull appearance and its tendency to break easily.
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The following list of nutrients should be incorporated in your diet to promote hair growth.
Proteins and amino acids: Certain amino acids in protein-rich foods may help promote hair growth, such as in meat, eggs, beans, lentils and nuts.
Omega 3 fatty acids: Fats are an important part of every diet and not all fat is bad for body. Omega-3 fatty acids are good for the heart as well as the hair, skin, and eyes. Fish can be good sources of Omega-3s as well as vitamin D, which can boost hair health. People who follow a vegetarian or vegan diet can get omega-3s from the following plant-based sources: walnuts, seeds such as flaxseeds and chia seeds, flaxseed oil, soybean oil, and canola oil and fortified foods.
Foods rich in biotin: Thinning hair and a loss of body hair are two symptoms of a biotin deficiency. Many dietary supplements for hair growth contain biotin. Eggs are a very good source of biotin. Other foods that contain biotin include meat, fish, nuts, seeds, some vegetables, such as sweet potatoes, spinach, and broccoli. Eggs also contain other compounds that can boost hair growth, including L-lysine, vitamin D, and certain minerals.
Foods rich in selenium: These include nuts, meat (liver and fish), eggs, milk and other dairy products, breads and cereals.
Iron-rich foods: Include iron in your diet such as beef, poultry, seafood, and fish, grains, beans, legumes, vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seeds. Iron rich foods for optimal hair growth like avocados, apricots, baked potatoes, beans, beetroot, broccoli, dairy products, dark chocolate, eggs, guava, lamb, lean meat, lentils, nuts, pumpkins, pumpkin seeds, raisins, soybeans, sunflower seeds, sweet potatoes and spinach.
Foods rich in potent antioxidants: For instance, vitamin C can help in maintaining healthy hair. Good sources of vitamin C are kiwi, citrus fruits, pineapple, tomatoes, green peppers, and dark green vegetables. The antioxidant can help increase scalp circulation, which is crucial for hair growth. Vitamin E is also important for blood circulation and oxygenation.
Foods rich in zinc: Zinc plays an important role in hair tissue growth and repair. It also helps keep the oil glands around the follicles working properly. Zinc deficiency can also lead to hair loss problem. Researches have shown that consumption of zinc supplements tend to reduce hair loss caused by zinc deficiency. However, there are some anecdotal reports that supplementing with too high of a dose can also contribute to hair loss. Foods high in zinc include oysters, spinach, wheat germ, pumpkin seeds and lentils.
At the end of the day, the best way to get these nutrients is by eating balanced and nutrient-dense foods.