Healthy-looking hair, especially when it is thick and dense has always been a sign of health and beauty. Healthy hair growth needs plenty of nutrients and your hair growth is one of the major factors that indicate your overall health and well-being.
In fact, many individuals who suffer from hair loss usually find themselves with some sort of nutrient deficiency.
Other factors such as age, genetics, and hormones can affect hair growth but ensuring your body has all the optimal nutrients is key to having healthy hair.
Below are some vitamins and other nutrients that can help promote healthy hair and hair growth.
1. Vitamin A
Vitamin A is an important vitamin for every cell proliferation and this includes hair growth.
It also helps skin glands produce sebum which is important for moisturizing the hair shafts so that you can avoid having dry, brittle, and damaged hair.
Some examples of foods high in Vitamin A are milk, eggs, yoghurt, sweet potatoes, carrots, pumpkins, and kale. These foods are all high in beta-carotene which turns into Vitamin A in the body.
Sweet potatoes are easy to consume and you can replace sweet potatoes with any potato dishes to get the extra nutritional factors from beta carotene for hair growth.
If you are unable to consume enough Vitamin A in your weekly diet, you can go for cod liver oil as your nutritional supplementation.
2. Vitamin B
B vitamins are essential to boost hair growth as these vitamins can help create red blood cells to carry oxygen to the scalp and hair follicles.
However, only those who are deficient will have the best results, and having a deficiency in B vitamins is rare as you can find it in a wide range of foods.
You can get B vitamins from many foods, including:
- whole grains
- dark, leafy greens
Additionally, animal products are the only good sources of vitamin B12.
If you are vegan and don’t consume enough protein, you can consider taking a supplement to support hair growth.
3. Vitamin C
Vitamin C is a powerful vitamin with antioxidant properties that protect against oxidative stress caused by free radicals. Free radical damage can block hair growth and cause your hair to age.
Your body also needs Vitamin C to create a protein known as collagen and collagen is a very important part of the hair structure.
Individuals with iron deficiency should consume Vitamin C as well as it helps your body absorb iron which is necessary for hair growth.
Natural foods high in Vitamin C include strawberries, peppers, guavas, and citrus fruits.
4. Vitamin D
People suffering from alopecia areata, a technical term for hair loss usually find themselves low in Vitamin D.
Vitamin D is important to support your overall immune system and a healthy immune system will promote hair growth and healthier hair.
You can get Vitamin D through direct contact with the sun rays or you can consume natural foods such as fatty fish, cod liver oil, mushrooms, and fortified foods.
If you choose to get your Vitamin D from the sun rays, it is important to go sunbathing only in the morning before 10 am.
Otherwise, just opt for dietary supplements containing Vitamin D to keep hair healthy.
5. Vitamin E
Vitamin E is also an antioxidant that can help prevent oxidative stress.
In one study, people with hair loss experienced a 34.5% increase in hair growth after supplementing with vitamin E for 8 months.
The placebo group had only a 0.1% increase.
You can get Vitamin E by consuming plant-based foods such as sunflower seeds, almonds, spinach, and avocados.
Iron is an essential mineral as its major function is to carry oxygen from your lungs to every part of your body. Not only does it carry oxygen, but it also stores oxygen in muscle tissues and it is responsible for healthy brain development and growth in children.
As Iron helps red blood cells carry oxygen to your cells, it also contributes to the hair cycle for growth.
There are two kinds of iron and they are known as heme and non-heme iron.
Heme is found only in animal products like red meat, poultry, and seafood. Non-heme is found in plant-based foods like whole grains, nuts, seeds, legumes, and leafy greens
It is important to consume just enough iron as too much vitamin can cause toxicity with symptoms such as constipation, upset stomach, nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain while having an iron deficiency can cause fatigue, dizziness, brittle nails, pale skin, sensitivity to cold and shortness of breath.
It is better to consume iron from natural foods high such as clams, oysters, eggs, red meat, spinach, and lentils.
If you have an iron deficiency and you are vegan, you can choose to consume iron supplements instead.
Zinc plays an important role in hair growth and repair. It also helps keep the oil glands around in the hair shafts working properly.
Zinc deficiency has been shown to contribute to hair loss and it is important to recognize the symptoms such as loss of appetite, impaired immune function, hair loss, diarrhoea, impotence, and skin rashes.
However taking too much zinc can cause stunt hair growth and give you flu-like symptoms, such as fever, chills, cough, headache, and fatigue. Inadvertently, this can also lead to hair loss.
For this reason, it may be better to get your zinc from whole foods.
Foods high in zinc include oysters, beef, spinach, wheat germ, pumpkin seeds, and lentils. If you consume enough of these foods, you may be able to avoid having a zinc deficiency and stimulate more hair growth.
Hair is made almost entirely from protein. Therefore, it is important to consume enough to boost hair growth.
Not all protein is created equal. There are proteins that specifically help improve hair growth.
The best kind of protein to improve hair growth comes from salmon as it has high amino acids and omega 3 fatty acids which are important to boost hair growth and keep it shiny.
Other fishes like sardines and mackerel are also packed with healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Your body can’t make these healthy fats you get from fatty fish, so it is important to eat enough to help protect you from disease and help with hair growth.
b) Greek Yogurt
Greek yoghurt is packed with protein and also has an ingredient that helps with blood flow to your scalp and hair growth. It’s called vitamin B5 (known as pantothenic acid) which may help with hair loss. You may recognize pantothenic acid as an ingredient on your hair and skin care product labels.
Eggs are rich in biotin and B vitamins. These two nutrients are very important for the health and maintenance of your hair. Biotin is a star element, which helps to keep your hair shiny and lustrous. Biotin is also present in many shampoos and conditioners and is one of the important elements needed for hair health.
If you noticed, almost all the examples provided to ensure you receive the key nutrients for hair growth can be found in spinach. Spinach has a lot of protein and tonnes of vitamins and minerals to tackle almost all the nutrient deficiencies your body may have and it also helps with brittle hair and hair thinning as it keeps hair moisturized.
Biotin or also known as Vitamin H and a water-soluble B vitamin is one of the key nutrients for hair growth. It works by stimulating the keratin production in hair and can increase the rate of hair follicle growth.
Individuals suffering from female pattern hair loss often find themselves with biotin deficiency.
You can opt to consume dietary supplements for a biotin deficiency or you can eat a balanced diet with enough protein to overcome any nutritional deficiencies you may have.
Biotin also comes in a shampoo, conditioner, or hair treatment as it can be included as a part of medical treatments to combat hair loss. By application and consumption, biotin can rapidly stimulate the hair follicle to stop hair loss.
Food is the best source of the vitamins you need for hair growth and to keep hair healthy.
Therefore, having a well-balanced diet can help improve medical conditions to decrease shedding and improve hair growth in the long run.
Your hair can also act as a signal to your overall health. So if you have dry hair, or notice any form of self-perceived thinning hair, your body is probably trying to tell you something.
If you are unsure about what is causing your hair loss, it is better to visit wellness professionals or doctors to get a medical checkup to figure out if you have any nutritional deficiencies.