Your hair is a good sign of your health. When you are suffering from an illness, hormonal issues, thyroid conditions, stress and nutritional deficiencies your hair can be a good indication that your body isn’t absorbing the nutrition it needs for optimum health.
When a shift in our health occurs our body responds by slowing down the growth rate. This change can result in dry brittle-like hair, less vibrant hues, thinning and even hair loss.
If you’ve recently noticed a significant amount of hair loss quickly, your first step is to check with a doctor. It could indicate an underlying medial condition.
What are the best vitamins and minerals for healthy hair?
Below are the key vitamins, minerals, fats and proteins your hair needs to get back into those luscious locks. Combine these with a healthy lifestyle of exercise, sleep and plenty of water to help speed up the hair growth cycle.
WATER - hydrated hair
To keep the hair and scalp hydrated it is recommended to consistently sip on water throughout the day until you have reached the minimum of 2 litres. If you like to sweat it out at the gym you will need to increase your intake.
PROTEIN - promotes hair growth and strengthens hair
Hair gets its structure from proteins called keratin. Although the body produces its own proteins, there are proteins known as essential amino acids that the body cannot create. This must be provided by the protein rich foods you eat. Our bodies digest and breakdown food proteins into amino-acid components. If your diet is low in protein or you have a protein a deficiency your hair growth slows down can become brittle, weak, or dry; may lead to hair loss.
Protein rich foods - red meat, poultry, fish, eggs, dairy products, nuts, seeds and legumes.
ESSENTIAL FATTY ACIDS - keeps hair hydrated and promotes hair shine
Omega fatty acids are the good fats the body needs to function and maintain health. They help balance sebum in the body to keep your scalp and hair hydrated. They have anti-inflammatory properties to help open the hair follicles and promote hair growth and shine. They improve the texture of dry and brittle hair.
Essential fatty acids foods - Wild-caught fish such as salmon, sardines, mackerel, chia seeds, flax seeds, hemp seeds, Legumes, walnuts, Spirulina, Flaxseed, Pumpkin Seeds, walnuts.
ZINC - provides oil for moisture for hair and scalp
Helps the balance and the production of sebum from the sebaceous glands from the hair follicle. The oil conditions the hair providing moisture and protection for the scalp. A lack of zinc can lead to hair loss or a dry flaky scalp.
Zinc foods - Pumpkin seeds, cashew nuts, sesame seeds, lentils, oysters, lamb, Fortified cereals, wholegrains, beef, eggs, shellfish.
IRON - promotes hair growth
Is a mineral that carries oxygen to your scalp and follicle cells to promote hair growth. It is common in women to have an iron deficiency due to menstruation periods as they lose iron every month or their body doesn’t absorb enough iron. Iron absorption can be improved in the body by eating foods rich in vitamin C with sources of iron in the same meal. Eating calcium rich foods such as dairy products several hours after eating can help the absorption of iron in the body. An iron deficiency can lead to dry and brittle hair. Hair thinning or shedding may occur.
Iron foods - Red meat, chicken, fish, spinach, broccoli, kale, nuts, seeds, lentils, kidney beans and whole grains.
L-LYSINE - Hair volume and hair growth
Is an essential amino acid that helps support calcium and iron in the blood to provide shape and volume to the hair. Getting enough of this amino acid can prevent hair loss and promote hair growth.
L-lysine foods - Meat, eggs, beans, lentils, nuts, spirulina.
ANTIOXIDANTS - nutrients to hair follicles
Provide nutrients via the blood stream to the hair follicle to keep the scalp and hair in top condition.
Antioxidants foods - all fruits and vegetables; blueberries, cherries, sweet potatoes, and acai are high in antioxidants.
VITAMIN A - Conditions hair and healthy scalp
Supports healthy cell division in the hair follicle and a healthy scalp environment for growth. It helps the body produce sebum, an oily substance from the hairs sebaceous glands which is essential for conditioned hair and scalp. Without sebum you may experience an itchy scalp and dry hair.Not enough vitamin A can lead to dry hair and scalp. Too much is toxic and can lead to thin, coarse, brittle hair.
Vitamin A foods - meat, carrots, sweet potatoes, kale, pumpkin, mangoes, apricots, milk, cheese, eggs, dark leafy vegetables.
VITAMIN B - stronger hair elasticity and protects scalp
Promotes hair cell growth, repair through protein metabolism for elasticity and stronger hair. It helps in the prevention of hair thinning and loss. Signs of a vitamin B deficiency can be dry scalp and excessive dandruff. Not getting enough biotin can cause brittle hair, hair loss and possible dermatitis.
Vitamin B foods - Egg yolks, whole grains, mushrooms, beans, lentils.
VITAMIN C - strengthen hair strands
Helps the body absorb iron, so it’s good to eat alongside iron-rich foods. Vitamin C is important for maintaining protein levels especially for the proteins of your hair follicles. Vitamin C is also a collagen which strengthens the hair shaft to try and prevent the hair from splitting.
A vitamin C deficiency causes hair shafts to grow in weak, dry, brittle and often results in a dry flaky scalp as well.
Vitamin C foods - Blackcurrants, blueberries, broccoli, kale, kiwi fruit, oranges, papaya, strawberries, oranges, and sweet potatoes.
VITAMIN E - boost hair growth and shine
increases oxygen to the blood, improves circulation to the scalp to boost hair growth and shine.
Vitamin E foods - Nuts, green vegetables, legumes, whole grains
SILICA - Collagen for strong hair
Produces collagen to strengthens the capillaries of the hair shafts for strong healthy hair. It can help with hair loss or thinning hair.