Just like skin, your hair has a way of letting you (and everyone else) know how healthy you really are. My hair became thin during my senior year of college and it wasn’t a pretty sight (maybe it was because I survived on peanut butter and jelly sandwiches to save up for an apartment). Once I realized what I was putting in my body affected my hair negatively, I got Senegalese twists in my hair the following Fall semester and made sure I ate a lot of healthy foods, exercised, and took several multivitamins. When I took my braids out after a few months, I could tell my hair had begun to gain its thickness back and look healthier than before.
Here’s what you can eat to bring your lackluster hair back to life:
We all know hair is made up of protein. It’s extremely important to make sure it’s a large part of the diet to keep hair strong and healthy. Not having enough protein causes the hair to become dry, weak, and brittle. If you notice your hair looks and feels a bit dull, try eating more foods like chicken, fish, and dairy to bring it back to life. In addition to adding those foods, another option is to make your own homemade treatments like mixing avocado and mayonnaise.
Too little iron leads to hair loss due to anemia and because the root and hair follicle aren’t being fed by the blood supply. When iron levels get too low, this affects the nutrient supply to the hair follicle, causing shedding. Beef and other red meats are rich in iron but if you don’t eat red meat, chicken and fish are great alternatives; leafy greens like spinach, broccoli, and kale offer adequate amounts too.
This vitamin helps with absorbing iron. Eating foods with vitamin C and iron together is a good idea. The best sources of vitamin C include blueberries, oranges, papayas, and sweet potatoes. It helps strengthen the capillaries that supply the hair shaft. If you don’t think you’re getting enough, a supplement will help you get to healthy levels.
Our bodies can’t make omega-3 so the only way to get it is through eating. Omega-3’s are in the cells lining the scalp and oils that keep the hair and scalp moisturized. They help fight against dry, brittle hair; hair loss, dry scalp, and reduced blood circulation to the scalp. Eating omega-3 brings back luster and elasticity, restarts hair growth and prevents or reverses hair loss. Sources include oily fishes like salmon and mackerel and other foods like avocado and pumpkin seeds (hair lines like Carol’s Daughter and Sofnfree have products with omega-3 also FYI).
This is needed in your body to produce sebum which is created by the sebaceous glands in the hair and naturally conditions the scalp. No vitamin A causes dry hair and itchy scalp. Getting too much of it could possibly be counterproductive for growth. It’s best to eat foods containing the vitamin rather than getting it through supplements. Foods containing vitamin A include orange and yellow vegetables like carrots, pumpkins, sweet potatoes, and animal products.
Low levels of zinc results in hair loss, lifeless hair, and going gray early. Too much of it can speed up growth but if there is a continuous high dosage, it can slow growth. There are products that contain zinc to prevent dandruff available in stores also like Neutrogena Daily Control Shampoo and Head & Shoulders. It’s really easy to get some amount of zinc in your diet through foods like beef, lamb, and dark chocolate.
For longer hair, definitely don’t forget about biotin. It is water soluble, which means it isn’t retained within the body so it’s best to get sufficient amounts of it to prevent the risk of deficiency. Too little of it results in brittle hair and hair loss. Examples of biotin rich foods are liver, egg yolk, soy flour, and yeast. Over the years, it has become widely used in supplements but eating the foods in addition to the supplements can be more beneficial.
All of these vitamins aren’t hard to find and more than likely they’re already in your fridge and cabinet depending on what food you already have. Have you dealt with horribly shedding hair? What did you do about it?