Every woman desires healthy, shiny, and voluminous hair. But, at times, hair products fail to produce the expected results, and hair starts falling out or becomes dry and brittle. Have you ever wondered why does it happen? Well, it happens due to nutritional deficiencies.
If you want to have strong, shiny, and thick locks, you have to make sure that the diet you follow is healthy, balanced, and highly nourishing. A balanced diet with adequate amounts of essential vitamins, minerals, and other nutritional elements strengthens your hair and boosts its growth rate. It also helps in preventing further hair loss, provided that the main culprit behind the issue is a poor diet. Listed below are some nutrients for healthier hair. Take a look.
Table Of Contents
Vital Nutrients For Hair Growth
Proteins are the building blocks of every cell, tissue, and organ in our body, especially our hair (1). Our body needs 20 essential amino acids to grow and function properly. While 10 of these are produced by the body, the rest need to be supplied through food.
Failing to consume enough protein diminishes your body’s ability to produce new hair follicles, which, in turn, holds up the growth of healthy hair (2), (3). Other side effects of protein deficiency include lackluster, brittle hair and hair discoloration.
Make sure to follow a protein-rich diet to keep your protein levels in a healthy range (4). Whole grains, beans, legumes, nuts and seeds, eggs, lean meats, dairy, and poultry products are rich sources of protein (5). Sea fish like salmon are high in omega-3 fatty acids (6). These essential fatty acids not only impart sheen and luster to hair but also strengthen the roots and prevent hair loss (7).
There are several vitamins needed for the proper functioning of the body and aiding healthy hair growth. These are vitamins A, C, E, and all B vitamins like B6 and B12, biotin, folic acid, etc. (2), (3). Additionally, MSM supplements can also be used to prolong the growth phase of the hair naturally.
- Vitamin A: It is important in the development and maintenance of the sebaceous glands (8). Sebum lubricates the hair follicles and hence contributes to the growth of naturally healthier hair. Vitamin A deficiency affects sebum production. This causes your scalp to get overly dry, leading to dandruff and other scalp issues, which ultimately cause hair loss (2), (3). Consume vitamin A-rich foods, like carrots, mango, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, and spinach.
- B Vitamins: The B vitamins are vital for robust hair. Deficiency of B vitamins, like riboflavin, biotin, folate, and vitamin B12, can lead to hair loss (2), (3). Moreover, it also slows down the process of cellular repair in the body. Consume foods rich in these vitamins, like whole grains, beans, lentils, potatoes, bananas, and eggs.
- Vitamin C: Vitamin C helps to maintain the collagen levels of the skin and protects it from photodamage (9). Collagen is a protein fiber that is the primary structural component of connective tissues, such as the skin and cartilage. It provides structure to your skin and strengthens the bones. Those who lack vitamin C in their body may experience hair breakage and split ends. Hence, to keep the split ends at bay, you have to consume vitamin C-rich foods, such as citrus fruits, broccoli, strawberries, and peppers.
- Vitamin E: This vitamin is responsible for regulating blood circulation in the body and scalp and supplying enough oxygen to different parts of the body. Vitamin E is a potent antioxidant that can help reduce oxidative stress and lipid peroxidation in the scalp, which reduces hair loss and promotes hair growth (10). Consume vitamin E-rich foods, like green vegetables, almonds, sunflower seeds, peanuts, avocados, etc.
Therefore, it is important to consume an optimum amount of minerals to keep your body fit and fine and hair lustrous and shiny. Kale, Brussels sprouts, spinach, corn, beans, and fresh fruits are rich in essential minerals.
Consuming foods rich in the above nutrients can help reduce hair loss and promote hair growth. However, it is also important to avoid certain foods that may affect the health of your hair. Scroll down to the next section to find out what they are.
Foods That Are Unhealthy For Hair
Can you imagine your life without colas? Can you stay away from candies and pastries? If yes, congratulations! Several studies have shown that excess consumption of high-sugar and processed foods can lead to hair loss (11), (12).
Like sugar, consuming excessive salt may cause hair loss (13). Sodium or salt is essential for maintaining the electrolyte balance within the body. However, excess sodium is harmful.
3. MSG Or Monosodium Glutamate
MSG or monosodium glutamate is present in many palatable foods like chips, sausages, burgers, and fries. It is a typical taste enhancer that helps to increase the taste and flavor of the food. However, MSG may increase the risk of hair loss (14).
4. Artificial Sweeteners
Artificial sweeteners contain zero nutrition. They are taste enhancers. Intake of excessive artificial sweeteners damages the hair follicles extensively.
Some other foods that are also unhealthy for hair include fried foods, colas, excessive animal protein, artificial edible colors, and alcoholic beverages.
Now that you know how nutrition influences the health of hair, you should be mindful of what you put on your plate.
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- Almohanna, Hind M et al. “The Role of Vitamins and Minerals in Hair Loss: A Review.” Dermatology and therapy 9,1 (2019): 51-70.
- Lonnie, Marta et al. “Protein for Life: Review of Optimal Protein Intake, Sustainable Dietary Sources and the Effect on Appetite in Ageing Adults.” Nutrients 10,3 360.
- Nehete, Jitendra Y et al. “Natural proteins: Sources, isolation, characterization and applications.” Pharmacognosy reviews 7,14 (2013): 107-16.
- Gammone, Maria Alessandra et al. “Omega-3 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids: Benefits and Endpoints in Sport.” Nutrients 11,1 46.
- Le Floc’h, Caroline et al. “Effect of a nutritional supplement on hair loss in women.” Journal of cosmetic dermatology 14,1 (2015): 76-82.
- Everts, Helen B. “Endogenous retinoids in the hair follicle and sebaceous gland.” Biochimica et biophysica acta 1821,1 (2012): 222-9.
- Pullar, Juliet M et al. “The Roles of Vitamin C in Skin Health.” Nutrients 9,8 866.
- Beoy, Lim Ai et al. “Effects of tocotrienol supplementation on hair growth in human volunteers.” Tropical life sciences research 21,2 (2010): 91-9.
- Goluch-Koniuszy, Zuzanna Sabina. “Nutrition of women with hair loss problem during the period of menopause.” Przeglad menopauzalny = Menopause review 15,1 (2016): 56-61.
- Bakry, Ola Ahmed et al. “Androgenetic alopecia, metabolic syndrome, and insulin resistance: Is there any association? A case-control study.” Indian dermatology online journal 5,3 (2014): 276-81.
- FOLDES, EUGENE. “Influence of the Salt Intake on the Loss of Scalp Hair.” Acta Medica Scandinavica2 (1957): 147-150.
- Rajput, Rajendrasingh J. “Controversy: is there a role for adjuvants in the management of male pattern hair loss?.” Journal of cutaneous and aesthetic surgery 3,2 (2010): 82-6.