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Foods for hair growth: The best nutrient sources

According to Erick Rudnick, MD, a healthy and varied diet can promote your hair health. However, this diet must contain all the nutrients needed for hair growth. And in this article, I will talk about the best foods for hair growth. These foods are rich in nutrients that are essential for hair growth

Foods for hair growth

Blog graphic explaining the need for healthy diet for healthier hair.
Diet for hair growth

Are you worried about your hair health? Does your hair break all the time? Or it falls off all the time? Well, you are not alone in all this! This is because most people experience hair problems at one point in their lives.  And they resort to several hair care methods to improve hair health.  These hair care methods can be easy and simple or drastic and harmful. Only desperation and ineffective hair care products can fuel these drastic methods. As a result, people are held for ransom by hair product manufacturers. All because they think, they have no other option!

This article was compiled from these 2 informative documents. You can visit the links for more.

However, people forget one fundamental element of hair health and growth, diet. A good diet is essential for healthier hair. And nutritional deficiencies in your body can be your hair’s worst nightmare. Nutritional deficiencies can cause your hair to be:

  • Brittle
  • Easily plucked
  • Thin
  • Dull
  • Easily breakable
  • Hair loss

And this can be prevented by having a healthier diet.

Also, read:

Blog graphic listing all the nutrients essential for hair growth.
Nutrients that are essential for hair growth

1. Protein sources

Proteins are the basic elements of every diet. This includes the diets for hair growth and conditioning. Amino acids like cysteine and methionine contain sulphide bonds. These amino acids are important in the synthesis of the hair protein, keratin. And keratin gives hair continuity and a shiny appearance as it grows. This hair appearance is a symbol of good health. The amino acid cysteine is synthesised from methionine. So, a deficiency in methionine leads to cysteine deficiency also. As a result, the amino acids’ combined deficiency results in hair problems. These hair problems include poorly growing and thin hair. Furthermore, the amino acid, lysine is responsible for hair shape and volume. So, lysine deficiency results in brittle, thin and limp hair.

Your diet should derive at least 10-15% of its energy from proteins.

The protein-rich healthy foods for hair growth include:

  • Cottage cheese
  • Natural yoghurt
  • Lean meat (beef loin, chicken breast etc)
  • Legume seeds
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Nuts
  • Whole grains
  • Eggs ( you should eat 2-3 eggs per week)

2. Sources of healthy fats

Fats are important in steroid hormone synthesis. These hormones help in keeping hair in the skin integuments. Dietary saturated fats also help hair growth by stimulating sebum secretion.

The deficiency of dietary healthy fats increases skin dryness. It also results in the hair bulbs being in an improper state. And this results in hair loss problems that include poor hair growth. Low dietary omega fatty acids also cause hair loss. This is because they are part of the horny layers of the epidermis. This is important in hair growth.

Your diet should obtain about 25-35% of energy from fats. And not more than 10% of this should come from saturated fats.

Healthy sources of omega  3 fatty acids include:

  • Fatty fish
  • Flax seeds
  • Fish liver oil
  • Walnuts
  • Wheat sprouts
  • Chia seeds
  • Hemp seeds
  • Oil of these healthy seeds

Sources of omega 6 fatty acids are plant oils. However, excessive use of these oils can cause hair asthenia and hair loss in excess. Furthermore, they harm heart health.

Also read: What makes fats harmful? Healthy fats vs unhealthy fats.

3. Foods for hair growth: healthy carbohydrate sources

The carbohydrate content in your diet influences your hair health. Eating highly processed sugar-rich foods is not good for hair health. Dietary sugars are an indirect cause of hair loss and poor hair growth. Sugars can stimulate the sebaceous glands to secrete sebum. Normally, sebum is good for hair growth. However, in excess, it becomes a food source for skin microorganisms. These microorganisms break down triacylglycerides releasing fatty acids. The fatty acids cause the irritation and development of inflammation on the scalp. And prolonged fatty acid releases cause further sebum secretion. Which leads to hair keratinisation disorders. And these can lead to poor hair growth and also hair loss.

Excess sugars also cause blood insulin and sugar spikes. And insulin has a direct impact on hair follicles and hair growth. Insulin also causes circulatory disturbances in blood vessels that nourish the scalp. And this leads to local hypoxia (oxygen deficiency) and hair loss.

Your diet should derive about 50-70% energy from carbohydrates. And not more than 10% of this should be sugars. It must be rich in complex carbohydrates which are rich in fibre. Dietary fibre helps regulate dietary lipid metabolism.

Sources of healthy carbs include

  • Whole grains like whole oats, brown rice and whole wheat.
  • Whole grain breakfast cereals
  • Brown bread and whole wheat
  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Tubers like sweet potatoes, orange-fleshed sweet potatoes are healthier.
  • Whole grain meals (unhulled maize meal)
  • Small grains like pearl millet, finger millet and sorghum. Also, barley and rye.

4. Vitamin sources as foods for hair growth

Availability of vitamins in the diet may also impact hair growth.  Most vitamins are involved in the root processes of hair growth and synthesis.

Sources of vitamin C

Vitamin C influences the synthesis of the hair shaft. Vitamin C deficiency can result in telogenic baldness. This is due to hair follicles entering a resting stage. Vitamin C available also enhances non-haem absorption. And iron is an essential part of hair growth processes.

Vitamin C sources include

  • Green vegetables like kale, broccoli, horseradish, Brussels sprouts, peppers, spinach and cauliflower.
  • Fruits like kiwi, dried figs, citrus fruits, strawberries.

Note: Vitamin C is easily damaged by high temperatures and shear forces. It is also easily leached into water solutions. So take precautions when cooking.

Vitamin D foods for hair growth

Low vitamin D in the serum of women of childbearing age is linked to prolonged telogenic hair loss. Vitamin D is important in promoting the proper development of hair follicles.

Healthy sources

The primary source is exposure to adequate sunlight energy for endogenous synthesis.

Vitamin D foods for hair growth include :

  • Fatty fish like mackerel, salmon and sardines
  • Whale and tuna liver oil
  • Beef, poultry, eggs and full-fat dairy contain small amounts.

Sources of Folate

The body needs folate in the production of red blood cells and haemoglobin. This means it is essential for effective oxygen supply to hair building tissues. It also helps stimulate the rebuilding of hair follicle cells. Folate also helps to regulate sebum secretion. Adequate dietary folate prevents earlier greying and falling out of hair. This means folate deficiency can negatively affect hair growth.

Foods for hair growth must be good sources of folate. These include:

  • Kale
  • Brussels sprouts
  • White beans
  • Green peas
  • Beets
  • Dry peas
  • Eggs
  • Cod

Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid)

Adequate vitamin B5 has been shown to prevent early greying and hair loss. It can also help in the restoration of natural hair colour.  Pantothenic acid is essential for:

  • Proper hair growth
  • Hair follicle cell division
  • Maintaining proper hair moisture
  • Antiinflammatory processes on the hair-skin integuments
  • Regulation of sebum secretion
  • Helps in melanin production

Sources of vitamin B5 include:

  • Mushrooms
  • Cauliflower
  • Liver
  • Soya
  • Milk
  • Beans
  • Whole grains and eggs

Biotin containing foods for hair growth

Biotin is an important component in fat and protein metabolism. And both of these are important in hair growth. The vitamin also activates hair growth. And it influences the state of the skin integuments. Biotin deficiency may lead to hair loss. It may also result in greasy hair and brittleness of hair.

Health biotin sources include:

  • Vegetables
  • Milk
  • Liver
  • Milk
  • Egg yolk
  • Some nuts

Niacin for hair growth

Niacin detoxifies the skin and helps in keeping hair in a proper state.

Sources of niacin include:

  • Lean meat
  • Whole grain cereals
  • Legume vegetables
  • Fish
  • Seeds like hemp, chia and nuts
  • Peanuts
  • Yeast and shellfish

Vitamin B12 sources for hair growth

Have been associated with excessive hair loss in women with anaemia depression.

Sources of vitamin B12 include:

  • Animal-based foods
  • Lean meat
  • Fish
  • Eggs
  • Milk and dairy products

Vitamin A sources for hair growth

Vitamin A is very important for proper moisturization. It also protects hair from being fragile. Excessive vitamin A intake and supplementation also cause hair loss. Overeating animal foods like liver and fatty meat pieces can also cause excessive intake.

Healthy and excellent sources with lower risks of excess intake are yellow/ orange fruits and vegetables. These contain carotenoids which are vitamin A precursors. And these have a lower bioavailability than animal-based vitamin A.

5. Dietary sources of minerals

Several minerals are important in hair growth. These include zinc, iron, copper, selenium, silicon, magnesium and calcium.

Zinc sources

Zinc is important in energy production and the metabolism of macronutrients in the body. It influences hair growth and the health of hair. Zinc also activates some important components involved in hair building. It also assists in vitamin A keratinisation of hair. Deficiency suppresses hair growth. And this leads to telogen effluvium, thin, brittle and white hair.

Sources of zinc include:

  • Oysters
  • Red meat, cheese, poultry
  • Chickpeas, beans, peas
  • Nuts like cashew and almonds

Iron dietary sources

In hair health, iron deficiency causes hair loss. Other effects include patchy hair loss and failure of hair to grow. If hair fails to grow it can cause temporary or permanent baldness. Iron influences the enzymes responsible for hair growth and synthesis. Iron deficiency results in thin brittle hair that can easily fall out.

Dietary iron sources for hair growth include:

  • Animal foods that contain easily absorbed haem iron. These include lean poultry, pork, beef, lamb, lamb live and fish.
  • Plant sources include soy, white beans, pistachio nuts, green parsley leaves, dried figs and apricots.

Copper for hair growth: sources

Copper is essential for the strengthening of keratin hair fibres. It also stimulates the proliferation of the keratinocytes. These are the cells that are involved in keratin synthesis. Sources are similar to those of iron.

Selenium containing foods for hair health

Selenium is needed during hair keratinisation. However, over-supplementation of excess dietary selenium can cause loss of hair.

Sources of selenium include:

  • Bread and cereals
  • Meat liver,
  • Fish like cod
  • Eggs and dairy foods
  • Fruits and vegetables (contain smaller amounts)

Silicon in hair health and its sources

Silicon is good for hair growth and causes hair to be shiny.

Sources of silicon include whole-grain foods, bran of whole grains, oatmeal, garlic, chives and seafood.

Magnesium for hair growth and its sources

Magnesium is very important in protein transformation reactions. It also plays a part in the growth and maturation of hair follicle cells. Magnesium has protective effects on hair against inflammation. The mineral has direct and indirect effects on hair growth.

Sources include:

  • Cocoa
  • Whole grains
  • Nuts
  • Legumes
  • Grits

Calcium in hair health

Calcium helps keep hair in a healthy state. The concentration of calcium in hair exceeds that of blood by 200 times. Calcium deficiency can also cause hair loss. 

Sources include:

  • Soya
  • Parsley green leaves
  • Hazelnuts
  • Cabbages
  • Kale
  • Walnuts
  • White beans
  • Fish

Conclusion

So, what can I do to ensure my hair grows healthily

Foods for hair growth is an article aimed at educating you on how to improve your hair health through the diet. You will notice that all the foods in this article can be added up into a healthy diet. So, the truth is, if you want healthy hair growth. You must have a properly balanced diet. Such a healthy and balanced diet is good for healthier hair. And also for a healthier body and life.

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