Nutrition and Hair: Does what you eat affect the quality of your hair?
As important as it is to use good quality products on your hair when it comes to shampoo, conditioner and styling products (especially if you colour your hair) being conscious about what you're putting inside your body is the first place to start to achieve healthy, shiny looking hair.
Because our body is super intelligent and designed to keep us alive, compared with other parts of the body, hair and nails are not biologically essential to our survival. (Meaning you won’t physically die if all your hair & nails fall off, even if you feel like you might at the thought). Thus, if you’re nutrient deficient or otherwise have compromised health, hair and nail quality will probably be the first to suffer as your body distributes nutrients to more “essential” organs.
So what can we do to ensure we are fuelling our body’s with enough nutrients to keep our body's and hair feeling and looking fabulous? Consuming whole foods that are nutrient dense such as plant foods and limiting nutrient poor foods such as processed and sugary foods. While overall nutrient density is important, some nutrients may play a particularly important role in hair health.
Hair cells are one of the fastest growing cells in our body. So they need a lot of nutrients and energy to keep up with their activity and growth. Zinc is an essential nutrient needed for division and growth of every cell in our body, including hair cells. Zinc also plays a role in keeping you sebaceous glands (or oil glands) working properly, keeping your hair and scalp moisturized.
Foods high in zinc: red meat, shellfish, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, legumes and beans
According to some research, hair follicle cells can be particularly sensitive to decreasing levels of iron and may not be able to grow new cells as effectively when iron stores are low. Although on the flip side excessive iron can also be harmful to the body.
Foods high in iron: Spinach, swiss chard, parsley, bok choy
Biotin is an important nutrient cofactor for enzymes that have multiple metabolic processes. One of these is the production of keratin which is the protein our hair and nails are made up of. Biotin is present in many food sources and is also produced by normal gut flora.
Foods high in biotin: Tomatoes, almonds, eggs, onions, carrots
These nutrients play a role in red blood cell production. Your blood is what carries oxygen and nutrients not only to your scalp and hair follicles but all around your body.
Foods high in B vitamins: Dark green leafy vegetables, almonds, fish. Meat
Essential fatty acids
EFAs are an important part of every cell membrane, including those that make up the skin of your scalp. They help your skin stay hydrated and your hair shiny
Foods high in EFAs: Flaxseeds, walnuts, salmon, sardines
As mentioned before, your hair is made up of a protein called keratin. Ensuring you consume enough good quality protein in your diet to provide your body with all the essential amino acids (building blocks of protein) can play an important role in the quality of your hair.
Foods high in protein: Meats, fish, beans, legumes, eggs
My goal is to provide science based wellness information. The information provided on this website and blog are not intended to replace medical advice or diagnosis from a physician or other medical provider.