Did we mention last time that hair is made up of about 97% protein? Because proteins are the building blocks for strong, healthy strands, it’s important to include high quality sources in your diet, such as salmon, eggs, Greek yogurt, and grass-fed meats. Try to find wild fish and organic, grass-fed meat whenever possible as they pack a greater nutritional punch with less of what you don’t want. Vegetarian or vegan? Fret not! Many of the foods that are high in other hair-friendly nutrients happen to be high in protein, such as pumpkin seeds, quinoa, spinach, and asparagus. In addition to protein, consider these vitamins as well—
Dry, flaky scalp? Low vitamin A just might be the culprit! This important nutrient is critical for producing the oils that help keep your scalp healthy. Not sure what to pick at the store? Think of bright orange foods such as sweet potatoes, cantaloupe, apricots, and pumpkin. Mangoes are also a delicious way to get vitamin A as well as silica, which is important for strengthening hair and preventing loss. Other sources of silica include asparagus, rice, and green leafy vegetables.
Vitamin B Complex
There are many B vitamins, each with specific roles in maintaining hair health, including color, shine, and thickness. If your tresses are in serious need of TLC, a good B-complex supplement might be just the thing for you. But even if you supplement, it’s important to focus on including nutrient-rich foods into your diet. Luckily, there are many sources of B vitamins, including eggs, avocados, whole grains, and legumes, as well as a variety of fruits and veggies, particularly dark, green leafy vegetables. Animal protein sources such as lean meats are the best for B-12. If you’re vegetarian or vegan, talk with your doctor about B-12 supplementation.
Pantothenic acid and inositol are also particularly important for scalp and follicle health. Both of these B vitamins have been found to reduce hair loss and pantothenic acid can even help prevent age-related graying. In addition to other foods high in B vitamins, citrus fruits and cantaloupe are good sources of inositol.
Do you love to spend time in the sun? Your hair’s in luck! The vitamin D that is produced by the body when skin is exposed to sunlight is believed to play a vital role in hair follicle cycling. Translation: Vitamin D stimulates hair growth. However, using sunscreen, staying indoors, or being in a part of the country with limited sunlight can lead to suboptimal levels of this vitamin, resulting in sluggish hair growth. Luckily, eating a diet that includes fatty fish (like salmon), Portobello mushrooms, Greek yogurt, and eggs can help increase vitamin D. If you are particularly deficient, a supplement might be needed. If so, make sure you avoid D2 and instead choose D3, which is easier for your body to absorb. Just as a reminder, before beginning any supplement, it is recommended that you check with your doctor first.
No matter your food philosophy, your best bet to grow the head of hair you’ve always wanted is to incorporate quality and variety into everything you eat. Hair needs a combination of protein, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals to grow strong, beautiful, and resilient. Choosing nutrient-dense foods like wild-caught salmon, color-rich fruits and veggies, and whole grains are the best way to get healthy hair from the inside out. Make simple changes to your diet now and you’ll be on your way to those luscious locks in no time!