By: Pallavi Vathiar. Practicing Clinical Nutritionist, Mumbai.
Its a huge struggle for women when it comes to hair growth. Everybody loves thick, long and lustrous hair, but are you eating enough in order to give adequate nutrient to your hair for keeping it strong and healthy??? Though it depends on factors like genetics, age, health and diet and we cant control our genetics and age but our health and eating a healthy diet is surely under our control. Consuming a balanced diet with the right nutrients can help promote hair growth, especially if you’re experiencing hair loss due to poor nutrition. Here are few foods which would promote hair health and better growth.
Eggs are a great source of protein and biotin also known as B7 which helps promote hair growth. Eggs are also a great source of zinc, selenium and other hair-healthy nutrients. This makes them one of the best foods to consume for optimal hair health. Biotin is essential for the production of a hair protein called keratin, which is why biotin supplements are often recommended for hair growth. A study has shown that consuming more biotin can help improve hair growth in people with a biotin deficiency (1).
Meat is a great source of protein, which is essential for healthy, strong hair. The protein in meat aids growth and helps repair and strengthen hair follicles. Protein and iron deficiencies have been linked to hair loss. A study has found that iron is more important for healthy hair growth. hence, red meat in particular is rich in a type of iron that’s easy to absorb. This mineral helps the red blood cells deliver oxygen to all cells in the body, including hair follicles (2).
Fatty fish like salmon, herring and mackerel have beneficial nutrients.Since they are excellent sources of omega-3 fatty acids, promotes hair growth. Fatty fish is also a great source of protein, selenium, vitamin D3 and B vitamins, nutrients that may help promote strong and healthy hair.
A study in 120 women found that taking a supplement containing omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids as well as antioxidants reduced hair loss and increased hair density (3). Another study found that taking a fish oil supplement significantly reduced hair loss and increased hair growth in women with thinning hair (4).
Shrimp are popular shellfish rich in many nutrients especially vitamin D3 that have the potential to promote hair growth. They are a great source of protein, B vitamins, zinc, iron and vitamin D. A 3.5-ounce (100-gram) serving of shrimp provides 38% of your daily vitamin D needs (5).
Beans are a great plant-based source of protein, being a good source of zinc, iron, biotin, folate, which aids the hair growth and repair cycle. A 3.5-ounce (100-gram) serving of black beans provides 7% of your daily zinc needs (6). Beans are highly versatile and easily affordable, which makes them an easy addition to the diet.
Studies have shown that compounds in soybeans may promote hair growth. One of these compounds is spermidine, which is abundant in soybeans (7). A study of 100 healthy people found that a spermidine-based nutritional supplement prolonged a phase of active hair growth called the anagen phase. The longer a hair follicle stays in the anagen phase, the longer it will grow (8). Test-tube studies have also observed that spermidine promotes human hair growth (9).
Sweet potatoes are a great source of beta-carotene. The body converts this compound into vitamin A, which is linked to good hair health. Research has shown that vitamin A promotes the production of sebum, which helps keep hair healthy. A medium sweet potato (about 114 grams) contains enough beta-carotene to provide more than four times your daily vitamin A needs (10).
Spinach is a healthy green vegetable that’s loaded with beneficial nutrients like folate, iron, and vitamins A and C, all of which may promote hair growth. A cup (30 grams) of spinach provides up to 54% of your daily vitamin A needs (11). Vitamin A helps the skin glands produce sebum. This oily substance helps moisturize the scalp to keep hair healthy (12,13).
Spinach is also a great plant-based source of iron, which is essential for hair growth. Iron helps red blood cells carry oxygen throughout the body to fuel your metabolism and aid growth and repair (2).
Nuts contain a variety of nutrients that promotes hair growth. 28 grams of almonds provides 37% of your daily vitamin E needs and a wide variety of B vitamins, zinc and essential fatty acids. A deficiency in any of these nutrients would cause hair loss. Nuts also provide other health benefits besides hair growth, including reduced inflammation and a lower risk of heart disease, etc (14).
Seeds deliver huge amount of nutrients with few calories. Many of these nutrients including vitamin E, zinc and selenium may also promote hair growth . 28g of sunflower seeds provides nearly 50% of your daily vitamin E needs and B vitamins.
Seeds like flax seeds and chia seeds also provide omega-3 fatty acids. A 28-gram of flax seeds provides 6,388 mg of omega-3 fatty acids. However, flax seeds provide a type of omega-3 fatty acid that is not used by the body as efficiently as the omega-3’s found in fatty fish. In order to get the widest variety of nutrients, it’s best to consume a mixture of seeds (15).