Your hair is not only your crowning glory it is also an outward indicator of your internal health. Just like skin, the state of your hair not only depends on how you care for it externally, but also on how you nourish it from the inside. That’s why today’s guest post is all about the healthy foods you can eat to enhance your hair without spending a fortune on treatments…
While skin gets the limelight in terms of nutrition, foods for healthy and strong hair haven’t been given much attention. Nevertheless, hair deserves the same treatment as skin as it can only be nourished while it grows. Once the hair shaft has formed and grown out of the follicle, only external (possibly pricey) treatments can be used to improve it’s condition. So it’s not an exaggeration when we say that the way you nourish your hair as it grows is just as important (if not more!) than all the products and hair care steps you use later on.
To understand how to keep your hair strong, let’s first appreciate what hair is made of and how it grows. Hair is the second fastest-growing tissue in the human body and is comprised of keratin, which is a hard protein. It grows at a rate of about ½ inch per month. Each hair develops from a hair follicle, which contains the hair bulb. It’s here that the hair shaft is formed by the growth and division of living cells.
Some essential vitamins and nutrients that you should look to include in your diet for a dense, lustrous mop of hair are:
- Essential fatty acids: Fatty acids, especially omega-3 fatty acids, effectively promote healthy hair by battling dryness, itchy scalp, dandruff and improper circulation. Research shows that omega-3 oils significantly reduce hair loss.
- Vitamin A: This vitamin is vital for the production of the oily secretions called sebum, which keeps the scalp nourished and moisturised while keeping hair healthy. Beta carotene is an important antioxidant that the body converts to vitamin A. It is critical to avoid getting an overdose of vitamin A, as this is a fat-soluble vitamin and is stored in the body.
- B-Vitamins: Biotin (also called ‘hair growth vitamin’) is a potent restorative B-vitamin. It increases the growth rate of hair, thickens the hair shaft and improves its strength and texture. Niacin, or vitamin B3, helps improve circulation and blood flow to revitalize the scalp. Other B-vitamins also facilitate the growth of beautiful tresses.
- Vitamin C: Antioxidants are substances that protect cells against the effects of free radicals, one of the main culprits of ageing. Vitamin C is a highly effective antioxidant. It also helps the body synthesise collagen, which leads to healthy hair, skin and nails.
- Vitamin D: This vitamin plays a role in the formation of new hair follicles from which new hair grow. Vitamin D deficiencies can cause hair loss.
- Vitamin E: With its powerful antioxidant properties, vitamin E repairs damaged hair follicles, prevent tissues damage and promote hair growth. It also enhances blood circulation to encourage a healthy scalp and prevent weak, brittle hair.
- Iron: Iron is crucial for the production of haemoglobin, which in turn carries the oxygen required for the growth and repair of cells, including those in the hair follicle. Iron deficiency, or anaemia, has been linked to hair loss.
- Zinc: This is a mineral required for hair cell growth. Low zinc levels cause hair loss, but higher doses can also be detrimental. Balance is key.
- Protein: A regular intake of high amounts of protein, the main structural component of hair, stimulates hair growth and slows down hair loss.
WHAT FOODS CONTAIN THESE VITAMINS?
Eating the right balance of the above nutrients ensures that your hair has everything it requires to be shiny and strong. Some healthy foods that you can include in your diet to feed your luscious locks are listed below:
Oily fish: Various ‘oily’ fish including salmon, trout and sardines, contain high concentrations of the vital omega-3 fatty acid. They are also loaded with protein and iron.
Avocado: Rich in fatty amino acids, including the highly beneficial omega-3 fatty acid, avocado provides your hair with long-lasting and deep hydration. It also contains vitamins A, B6, D and E.
Spinach: This dark green leafy vegetable is known for its rich nutrient content: it is brimming with hair-rejuvenating nutrients like vitamin A, iron, beta carotene, folate and vitamin C.
Lean poultry: Lean meats like chicken or turkey are excellent sources of protein, plus they contain less saturated fats than beef or pork.
Eggs: Eggs are rich in biotin, protein and iron – which are fantastic nutrients for hair strengthening.
Berries, citrus fruits and others: Blackcurrants, blueberries, oranges, kiwi fruits, strawberries and even broccoli are good sources of vitamin C.
Nuts: For healthy and silky locks, nuts like almonds and walnuts are packed with biotin, omega-3 and 6 fatty acids, protein and zinc.
Whole grains and seeds: Healthy whole grains like oats and brown rice are rich in B-vitamins and zinc. These are most effective when eaten as close to their natural state as possible. Seeds like quinoa and flax are not only high in zinc but are also incredible vegetarian sources of omega-3 fatty acids.
Yoghurt: Dairy, and yoghurt, in particular, provides calcium, vitamin A and protein.
With these hair-enhancing foods in your kitchen cupboards, you are well on your way to a glorious mane. Take care of your body from within and the rest will follow! Let me know your tips for healthy eating in the comments below 🙂
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