Keeping those tresses in top condition could have less to do with hair care products and more to do with what you eat. That’s right. A well-balanced diet that includes healthy proteins, healthy fats, and other nutrients is just what the hairdresser—and nutrition experts—ordered.
Dawn Jackson Blatner, RD, a Chicago-based dietitian explains. “Your hair grows about ¼ to ½ inch every month, and the foundation of all of our new hair, skin, and nail growth is the nutrients we eat. If you eat a healthy diet, you will grow stronger and healthier cells throughout your entire body—inside and out.”
So just what kind of nutrients should find their way into your “healthy hair” diet?
First of all, it is important to include foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids--and salmon is at the top of the list. It’s not only loaded with omega-3s, but it also supplies a high-quality protein source while providing B12 and iron. Los Angeles dietitian and American Dietetic Association spokeswoman, Andrea Giancoli, MPH, RH, says: “Essential omega-3 fatty acids are needed to support scalp health.† A deficiency can result in a dry scalp and thus hair, giving it a dull look.”
If you are a vegetarian, you are still in luck. Just add one or two tablespoons of ground flaxseed to your daily diet—as it contains plant-based omega-3s.
What else is on the menu?
Dark green vegetables like spinach, broccoli, and Swiss chard. These provide excellent sources of vitamins A and C—vitamins your body needs to produce sebum, which is the oily substance your hair follicles secrete and acts as your hair’s natural conditioner. Additionally, dark green vegetables offer iron and calcium.
And don’t forget to add legumes, including lentils and kidney beans. They add good amounts of protein for hair growth, as well as iron, zinc, and biotin. (A biotin deficiency is rare, but when it does occur, it can result in brittle hair.)
While you are at it, be a little nutty. Here’s why: adding nuts to your diet can help you avoid unhealthy hair. Brazil nuts, in particular, are one of the best sources of selenium—an important mineral that helps support the health of your scalp.
But that’s not all. Walnuts contain alpha-linolenic acid, an omega-3 fatty acid that may naturally condition hair.† Walnuts, along with cashews, pecans, and almonds, also provide an excellent source of zinc. (A zinc deficiency may result in hair shedding.)
And, finally, be sure to include poultry, eggs, and dairy products. Poultry, such as chicken or turkey, provide protein which helps keep hair strong. In addition, poultry also provides iron that offers a high degree of bioavailability—making it easy for your body to utilize. Eggs, too, provide one of the best sources of protein around. What’s more is that eggs also contain biotin and vitamin B12, which are two very important nutrients.
If so, your hair will thank you. Milk and other dairy products are great sources of calcium and contain whey and casein, two high-quality protein sources.
What a yummy way to keep your hair in tip-top shape.
† These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.
These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.