Often we concentrate on the application of products to make our hair look and feel soft, shiny and strong. While these products certainly do play a part, we often overlook our diet and the real importance of nutrition in achieving a healthy head of hair.
Foods contain the nutrients (vitamins and minerals) needed to nourish our bodies and enable us to grow. When available in sufficient quantities, these nutrients contribute to radiant hair, skin and overall good health.
Some foods are particularly rich in the nutrients required for healthy hair. By incorporating some of these foods into a balanced diet, you may be able to reduce the product stash in your hair cabinet.
Protein is the single most important nutrient for hair because it contributes to the hair’s primary building blocks. Protein gives the hair its strength and minimizes its susceptibility to breakage and split ends. Protein-rich foods include seaweed, salted cod (salt-fish), chicken, yogurt, tofu, eggs and cottage cheese.
Iron is an important hair nutrient as well, as iron deficiencies have been clinically linked to hair loss. Hair follicles rely on haemoglobin for their nutrient supply and iron is a key player for maintaining healthy haemoglobin levels. Haemoglobin is the component of red blood cells responsible for carrying oxygen around the body. Beef, shrimp, oysters and turkey are good sources of iron which is easily absorbed by the body. Vegan sources of iron such as blackstrap molasses; baked potato (with skin) and cooked lentils are less readily absorbed and should be consumed in conjunction with absorption enhancers like citrus juices or white wine.
A sufficient supply of B-vitamins is also mandatory for healthy hair. B3 (Niacin) promotes blood circulation to the scalp thereby aiding hair growth. B5 (Panthenol) and Biotin prevent hair loss; while B12 (Folic acid) assists in the production of red blood cells and ensures that iron functions properly. Vitamin B3 is present in chicken breast, yellow tuna and salmon while mushrooms, sunflower seeds, cauliflower, corn and broccoli are excellent sources of B5. A salad of tomatoes, romaine lettuce and carrots is rich in biotin but for B12, consider snapper, venison and scallops. Due to their water-solubility however, B vitamins cannot be stored in the body making it even more crucial that they are incorporated into the diet in adequate amounts on a daily basis.
Omega-3 oils have been long touted for promoting faster hair growth. While this has not been proven, it is widely agreed that Omega-3 oils contribute to overall hair health. Omega-3 is found in fatty fish like salmon, mackerel and sardines. It can also be found in nuts, olive oil, avocado and flaxseed.
A healthy scalp needs Vitamin A & C as they aid in the production of sebum (the natural oils produced by the skin). These essential vitamins can be found in carrots, mangoes, cantaloupe, and spinach.
This article wouldn’t be complete without the mention of water. Water accounts for a quarter of the weight of hair and is credited for making the hair supple and flexible. A lack of water can lead to dry, brittle hair that lacks shine. Drinking water at regular intervals throughout the day will help ensure that you’re getting enough water.
Being aware of a variety of foods containing the nutrients needed for healthy hair makes it easier to make the appropriate choices. You can appreciate that by just making small but consistent changes to your diet you can reduce your dependence on hair products and not only boast beautiful hair and skin, but overall good health.
HairObsessed is a Bajan living in Canada, who takes great pleasure in caring for her hair. She spends her days working in the IT field, but on occasion takes time to nurture her artistic flair for card making and event planning. She manages the blog Diary of a Hair Obsession which chronicles her journey towards healthier relaxed hair. The blog features product reviews, DIY styles and just about anything else hair related. You can find out more about HairObsessed’s hair journey at http://www.diaryofahairobsession.com.