We’ve all heard the saying “you are what you eat,” and yet, while it’s universally accepted that a healthy, well-balanced diet is good for our bodies, many do not realize that what we consume daily can also have a substantial effect on our hair. Just like imbalances in your diet can affect your skin and health, the foods that you eat can also have a significant impact on the texture, length, and quality of your hair, making your #hairgoals that much harder to achieve. To help you out with that, we checked in with our team of in-house hair care experts to have them put together this guide of the top eight types of foods you should be eating to help promote healthier hair. Keep scrolling to see the nutrients that could make a big difference when it comes to the health and appearance of your strands, and which foods to eat to get them!
Proteins are vital for all cell growth, especially when it comes to our hair. That’s because our strands get their structure from proteins called keratin, a deficiency of which can lead to slow hair growth, as well as weak, thinning strands. As it’s one of the main building blocks of our hair, it’s essential to make sure you’re consuming enough high-quality proteins so that, like your body, your hair can stay strong and healthy. Just remember to look for lean proteins like chicken, pork, and fish—salmon, trout, and tuna are great options—or if you’re a vegetarian, lentils, tofu, beans, and greek yogurt.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
If your hair is particularly dry, you may benefit from adding additional essential fatty acids to your diet. These vital nutrients are found in the epithelial cells that line your scalp and play a role in sebum production, which helps keep your scalp and hair healthy, hydrated, and shiny. For the best sources of omega 3s, look to fatty, wild-caught fish (such as salmon, anchovies, sardines, and mackerel), walnuts, and flax and chia seeds.
Biotin is a particularly essential nutrient for healthy hair (your skin and nails too!). Part of the B vitamin family, it helps promote hair growth by helping the body metabolize amino acids from the food you eat. It can also help improve the strength and resiliency of your hair, defending it against dehydration and environmental damage, which is why those with deficiencies can sometimes experience increased hair loss. If you’re looking to add more biotin-packed foods into your diet, try stocking up on eggs, almonds, avocados, and whole grains.
Iron is a crucial mineral for hair health, as deficiencies have been linked to hair loss—especially in women. Low iron levels are related to low red blood cell counts, which means there is a lack of oxygen and nutrients being transported to the hair follicles, thus inhibiting the growth and strength of your hair. To help boost your iron levels, try adding in foods like spinach, whole grain oats, broccoli, eggs, and lentils.
A powerful antioxidant, vitamin C helps to produce collagen, a protein that supports our hair’s elasticity and prevents our strands from splitting. It also aids the absorption of iron in food and helps protect the cells from free-radical damage, which can inhibit healthy hair growth and cause premature aging, making it a crucial part of any healthy hair diet. For an added boost of vitamin C, look to a wide range of fruits, including blueberries, strawberries, oranges, and tomatoes, as well as veggies like bell peppers and sweet potatoes.
Vitamin A is a crucial proponent of cell growth (a.k.a hair growth). It also helps the body to produce sebum, which moisturizes your scalp and hair follicles to keep them healthy and strong. Sweet potatoes, pumpkin, carrots, spinach, and kale are all high in beta-carotene, which is what gets converted into vitamin A when digested.
Another potent antioxidant, vitamin E is particularly effective at protecting against oxidative stress, as well as maintaining pH and oil levels and improving blood circulation in the scalp—all things that aid in hair growth. You can find high levels of vitamin E in avocados, broccoli, almonds, sunflower seeds, and spinach.
A trace mineral that plays an essential role in hair tissue growth and repair, zinc also helps to balance the production of sebum in the sebaceous glands so that the scalp is well-moisturized and protected. Zinc deficiencies can often lead to a dry, flaky scalp, as well as dull hair and sometimes added hair loss. Amp up your zinc intake by making sure you eat plenty of whole grains, lentils, oysters, clams, and other shellfish, and pumpkin seeds.