Hair Food

Give your hair what it craves by eating right

By: Erin Torrance

Those endless rounds of conditioning and shampooing do little to promote healthy long-term hair growth. Rather, this routine reacts to a lack of nutrients and vitamins that your hair requires. So what is the source of the problem? It’s your diet.

While low-calorie and crash diets drop a few pounds fast, they can also drastically damage your hair—especially when combined with regular heat styling. Many of us just can’t give up the straightening or curling iron, but for the sake of our tresses, we can’t give up a well-rounded diet either. So here are some healthy food tips that take care of your waistline and your hair.

Protein:

Your hair requires protein to stay strong—in fact, your hair is mostly protein. When your hair feels brittle or your natural colour appears faded, this could be due to a protein deficiency. Turkey and chicken are both lean meats that are great when cutting calories without cutting protein. Eggs are also an excellent source of protein. Vegan? Add a cup of lentils or beans to a salad for added protein.

Biotin:

Beans and eggs are also a source of biotin, along with carrots, bananas and mushrooms. Biotin is a member of the B-vitamin family. It is essential for the breakdown of proteins and the formation of fatty acids, allowing your hair to reap the benefits of both. Biotin deficiency can lead to thinning and early graying of hair.

Vitamin A:

Vitamin A helps at the base of hair growth—the scalp. It nourishes dry scalp, promoting healthy hair growth from the root, while also nourishing dry hair. However, too much vitamin A (over 25,000 IU daily) has been linked to hair loss, leading to baldness in few cases. The recommended daily dosage—if taken by capsule—is 5000IU. For more vitamin A in your diet, try creating a salad of carrots, spinach, red and green baby romaine leaves and dried apricots.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids:

For a healthy scalp and shiny hair, Omega-3 fatty acids are essential. They work in hand with selenium, a mineral found in some proteins that prevents the damage of body cells by oxidants in the environment. Excellent sources of omega-3 are salmon, fish oil capsules, Brazil nuts (which are higher in selenium) and ground flaxseed.

Zinc:

Zinc helps the body to utilize protein, increasing hair growth, while also supporting immune function which can help fight off illnesses that wreak hair-loss havoc. Some great nutritional sources for zinc include nuts, whole grains, oysters and lamb.

With these in mind, try to tailor your meals around a nutritious hair health and growth-promoting diet rather than seeking out the ultimate multivitamin and consuming not-so-good foods—your body and your hair will love you for it.

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