Hair is always growing from our scalp and proper hair maintenance, as well as genetics, contributes immensely to its exponential growth and overall health. However, nutrients we put in our bodies can also have an effect on the growth and thickness of our hair, as well as the retention of length and volume. So which nutrients and foods can result in stronger, longer, healthier hair and decrease hair loss?
According to Dr. Weil, diets low in omega 3 fatty acid can result in hair loss. So, consuming more foods rich in omega 3s are essential to hair growth. Examples of such foods are salmon, fresh tuna, flaxseeds, chia seeds, and olive oil, just to name a few. Gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), also known as omega 6 fatty acid, is also very beneficial to hair health. High amounts of GLA can be found in “plant seed oils of evening primrose, black currant, borage, fungal oils, and spirulina (often called blue green algae). GLA supplements can also be taken and are derived from evening primrose oil, black currant seed, and borage seed oil.
Aside from omega 3 and 6 fatty acids, protein is crucial to hair health. Protein is actually the building block of hair. If you don’t get enough, your hair will grow slower, and strands will be weaker (Haupt). Iron is also another nutrient that, if deficient, can result in weaker strands that canot retain length. Below are a list of vegetarian and non-vegetarian food options high in both protein and iron.
Non-Vegetarian (Meat Eaters)
- Lean red meat
- Amaranth seeds
- Beans (lentils, lima beans, kidney beans, black beans, chickpeas)
Two types of iron exist in the human body: heme iron and non-heme iron. Heme iron, are well absorbed, and can only be obtained from animal sources such as cow, chicken and fish. These animal sources contain about 40% heme iron. The remaining 60% of animal-based sources, and 100% of plant-base sources, are comprised of non-heme iron, which is less well-absorbed, according to Darya Rose author of the article Healthy Vegetable Sources of Protein and Iron.
However, the good news for vegetarians is that there are foods that, when added to your meal, can enhance the absorption of non-heme iron. Non-heme iron enhancers include fruits high in vitamin C, peppers, broccoli, tomatoes, potatoes, brussels sprouts and white wine (Rose). Biotin, or vitamin B7 is another nutrient many use for thicker, longer hair and overall scalp health. It can be taken in a supplement form or from foods such as peanuts/walnuts, legumes, sunflower seeds, cauliflower, bananas, green peas and cereals such as rice bran.
So if you have been struggling with obtaining longer hair and/or thicker/stronger hair, try incorporating more of these nutrients into your diet.
What are some foods or supplements you use for your hair health? What are your hair goals, if any?
Ehrlich, Andrew. “Gamma-linolenic Acid.” University of Maryland Medical Center. N.p., 22 June 2015. Web. 12 Jan. 2017.
Group, Edward. “Top Foods High in Biotin.” Global Healing Health. N.p., 08 Nov. 2016. Web. 12 Jan. 2017.
Haupt, Angela. “10 Best Foods for Your Hair.” U.S. News & World Report. N.p., 14 Jan. 2012. Web. 12 Jan. 2017.
Rose, Darya. “Healthy Vegetable Sources of Protein and Iron.” Summer Tomato. N.p., 9 Aug. 2010. Web. 12 Jan. 2017
Weil, Andrew. “Hair Loss.” Weil Lifestyle. N.p., 25 July 2016. Web. 10 Jan. 2017.