Strands of strength: Foods for hair growth
When we experience hair loss, we try to seek those remedies with different hair products, but probably the first thing we need to do is correct our diet. The solution to our hair issues lies in a change in lifestyle, in which the diet is one of the most important factors. This change starts by bringing that balance into the food that we consume, and thereby provide the necessary nutrition to our hair cells for hair growth. Hair is after all a protein filament, and demands appropriate food for hair growth.
To combat an unfavourable environment and the associated wear and tear, one needs to nourish the hair with the right ingredients on a regular basis. The hair care products that provide the necessary nutrients from the outside are necessary. One however, also needs to follow a comprehensive diet for healthy hair, which would help to build up the strength of the follicles from within.
Nutrients in food for hair growth
Hair is the fastest growing tissue in the human body, and therefore it necessarily follows that the nutrients to facilitate faster hair growth be present in the body. Lean-proteins, omega 3 fatty acids and iron are only some of the proper nutrients required in food for hair growth. It is always a good idea to reject packaged foods for those natural nutrients, as the quality of your hair improves with each healthy morsel.
- As hair follicles consist mostly of protein, it is an important nutrient for hair growth. People with abnormal eating habits have protein deficiency. Healthy hair demands a significant protein diet; a good intake of eggs, meat and pulses make up for it quite adequately. There are a lot of amino acids in protein rich foods responsible for good hair and L-lysine is one of them. L-lysine helps in the shape and volume of hair. A simple recipe like a lauki ka raita would be enough to provide the necessary dose of protein to your diet, and is a good food for hair growth.
- Vitamin A produces an oily substance called sebum which regulates the moisture on the scalp, and keeps the hair healthy. It is however important to regulate the content of vitamin A, as an excess also leads to hair loss. Sweet potatoes, carrots and pumpkins all have beta carotene which is converted into vitamin A. This vitamin can also be found in animal products like eggs, milk and yoghurt.
- The B-vitamin also contains a number of benefits for hair growth. A great variety of foods that we consume on a daily basis contain biotin, also known as vitamin H. The biotin helps make energy by converting some nutrients present in the body. It helps the body produce keratin that is present in hair, nails and skin. It is also used for hair loss treatment, but the people who suffer from a deficiency derive the greatest benefits and not healthier people.
Folate or B9 is used for DNA and RNA and is to be found in broccoli, potatoes and orange juice among other things. This is great food for hair growth. Heat can destroy the properties of folates ands so certain foods need to be consumed raw to derive its benefits. Grains, almonds, meat and fish contain a lot of B-vitamins. However vitamin B12 is found only in animal foods and men, and so vegans would be required to take supplements.
- Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant, and also helps create a protein collagen which is very important for our hair. It also helps the hair absorb iron which is extremely important for hair growth. Strawberries, pepper, guavas and citrus fruits are rich in vitamin C and are the best fruits for hair growth. In fact, it is said that one lemon a day suffices for your daily dose of vitamin C. Lime juice with some honey added for sweetness, is an excellent way to start your day.
- Vitamin D is one of the most important nutrients for our body and what makes it even more crucial is the fact that most people do not get enough of it. While the actual role of vitamin D in hair growth is not clear, it has been reported to create new follicles. Sunlight is an excellent source of vitamin D, apart from fatty fish and cod liver oil. 10-15 minutes of sunlight every week, is enough to fulfil the body’s need for vitamin D.
- Foods such as seeds, nuts and leafy greens have vitamin E. It is a powerful antioxidant that helps nourish and protect the scalp and promotes hair growth. It gives the hair a strong base to grow from, by maintaining the protective lipid layer. People who have had hair loss problems, experienced significant hair growth after taking vitamin E supplements.
- Iron is one of the most important ingredients for hair growth, as it improves blood circulation and provides oxygen to the hair roots. Cases of iron deficiency are very common in women, and when the levels fall severely, the person may experience anaemia. Lentils, pumpkin seeds, broccoli and oysters are rich in iron, and are great food for hair growth.
- Zinc is an important facilitator in helping the oil glands around the hair work properly. Lack of zinc severely impacts hair health, as it contributes in hair growth and repair. Oysters, pumpkins and spinach are rich in zinc, and its supplements have been known to positively affect hair growth. It is generally seen that the general population are frequently deficient in this nutrient, which is responsible for a hair loss condition called alopecia areata.
- Omega 3 fatty acids are great for hair growth and also greatly enhance the look and feel of the hair. Sometimes inflammation could be the cause of hair loss, and flaxseed oil is one of the potent suggested remedies. Fish oil also has a very high content of omega acids which are also impactful in general body health, apart from being nutritious food for hair growth.
- Vitamins B3 and B9 also known as Folic acid and Niacin are very crucial for the body. Apart from augmenting circulation, they also help in improving the performance of the other nutrients in the body.
What are the best foods for hair growth?
To bring about hair which spells smoothness and quality, a balanced diet plan that provides nourishment to every hair cell is essential. Expensive hair care products can never compensate for the benefits that a good wholesome meal provides. A little protein in your daily diet is always recommended, as a lack of the appropriate intake could require you to compensate with supplementary food for hair loss. Every hair type, whether dry or silky, is indicative of the internal health of the individual. They need to be taken care of with the right dose of minerals and vitamins.
- Eggs: One cannot overemphasise the importance of eggs in your daily diet. While its external application is beneficial to the hair, the egg yolk has biotin, folate, vitamins A & D and helps your hair resist damage. It could be called a super food for hair growth. Hair is made up of a structural protein called keratin and its consumption can really add the extra nutrients for your hair health. Also, biotin breaks up protein into amino acids which are the building blocks of your hair.
- Salmon: The biggest benefit of salmon is the superabundance of omega-3 fatty acids that it contains. This helps you retain a healthy scalp and promotes hair density, and together with vitamin B-12 and iron brings about the shine and bounce in your tresses. For people who are allergic to salmon or do not feel like consuming it, fish oil is a good alternative.
- Spinach: This is one of the very important plant-based sources of iron with nutrients like folate and vitamins A& C, all of which are very beneficial for hair growth. It also has vitamin E and iron. Also, vitamin A is important for the production of sebum, which regulates the proportion of oil in the scalp.
- Yogurt: For those with hair thinning issues, yogurt which has vitamin B5, could be an extremely beneficial food for hair growth and health. The presence of probiotics in yogurt reduces dandruff. It also ensures the proper functioning of the digestive system which facilitates hair health and density. The lactic acid in yoghurt is very good for cleaning & cooling the scalp and promoting hair growth.
- Walnuts: One of the less consumed foods that are really good for hair growth is walnuts. Walnuts could almost be termed a super food as it has vitamin E, copper and proteins apart from omega fatty acids which help in best hair growth. If that were not enough, it also has selenium which is useful in protecting the hair from the sun.
- Pumpkin: If premature hair loss is your problem then the antioxidants present in pumpkins could prove to be your greatest ally in stopping hair fall and enhancing hair growth. The folate augments blood circulation, and it also contains vitamins A, C, and E. It has iron and zinc which are essential ingredients for healthy hair.
- Shellfish: Zinc which is a key ingredient for strong hair and for prevention of an itchy, dry scalp can be found in oysters, clams and crab. However one should take care to limit the intake, as excess quantities of zinc can hamper the ability of the body to absorb copper. Shrimps are filled with zinc, vitamin B12 and iron and therefore are an extremely useful food for hair growth.
- Carrots: Experts recommend that we drink carrot juice every day, as it is good food for hair growth and thickness. The vitamin A present, is a great help in generating the sebum to keep the follicles in perfect condition. It makes the hair dense and shiny.
- Berries: The vitamin C in berries acts as a strong antioxidant to help protect the hair against unhealthy molecules. In fact the vitamin C content is enough for the daily needs of a person, and also helps absorb iron.
- Lentils: The folic acid in lentils, assist the body in making red blood cells. The red blood cells supply oxygen to the scalp, and help in regeneration of cells. The zinc and biotin are good for healthy hair growth.
- Chia and flax seeds: Easy to chew on, these seeds are very good food for hair growth and shiny hair especially during monsoons. Flax seeds are a rich source of vitamin E and help in hair growth by increasing blood circulation in the scalp. It also keeps it properly moisturised and could be an important part of your diet for healthy hair. Chia seeds have fibre, phosphorus and omega-3 fatty acids and are considered very good for strong hair.
- Peanuts/peanut butter: The biotin in peanuts are extremely helpful for hair growth. Peanuts provide a very effective combination of fibres, proteins and antioxidants and is a good alternative for vegetarians. The vitamin E and biotin also provide excellent nutrition for the hair.
- Avocado: Vitamin E, essential in regulating the oil balance, is present in large amounts in avocadoes. It is magical food for hair growth. It stops the oil levels from exceeding the prescribed limit and clogging the hair roots. The magnesium and potassium give a silky and shiny look to the hair.
- Chickpeas: Chickpeas are full of zinc, proteins and iron and have a high folate content. They are a very effective antioxidant and provide protection against the negative effects of free radicals. Proteins and the high manganese content are very good for hair growth and manganese is also good for premature greying.
- Barley: The ‘king of cereals’, barley helps in blood flow to the scalp by increasing the number of red blood cells and is recommended by experts as the food for hair growth. It is also useful in restoring the natural colour of the hair. The advantage of barley is that it can be added to a variety of soups and curries to increase the flavour.
- Soy beans: The soy beans are very useful in restricting the production of the hormone dihydrotestosterone, the imbalance of which is associated with hair loss. It is also a valuable source of manganese, omega 3 fatty acids and vitamins, and is therefore a very good food for hair growth. The soy is also responsible for the production of Hyaluronic Acid which is a natural moisturiser and is greatly beneficial for the scalp.
- Sweet potato: For those in the habit of straightening, blow drying or using various other styling techniques, incorporating sweet potatoes in the diet might be helpful. They will minimise the negative effects of such methods on the hair.
At Traya Health, we believe that a strong body facilitates healthy hair. Our experts are there to guide you at every step, as we design a suitable nutritional plan for you. This will ensure that your hair health is built around a diet with the appropriate nutrients and lead to strong and long lasting hair.
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