If you're looking to boost your hair health and promote hair growth, you've probably been tempted by more than one so-called "miracle" hair care product. It's easy to fight to fix the problem instead of preventing it in the first place, and it's no different when it comes to our hair. Have you ever stopped to think about how your diet may be affecting - either positively or negatively - your hair health?
Eating nutritious, balanced meals throughout the day is vital if you're keen to nourish your locks and keep your hair in the best of health. Some of the most important nutrients for healthy hair include B-complex and fat-soluble vitamins like biotin, vitamin C, vitamin D, vitamin E, iron, omega-3 fatty acids, and, the key nutrient of them all, protein.
Keep in mind that your diet choices don't just encourage healthy hair - some foods are responsible for causing hair loss. Sugars and processed foods can provide very little sustenance and nutrients that our bodies need, and, even worse, they can cause chaos in the gut.
Considering a healthy gut helps the body to absorb nutrients, it makes sense that when your gut is in a poor state of health, your overall health may also be affected.
If you've lost a lot of hair and you don't know why, it's best to seek medical advice from your doctor. But if you just want to learn how to promote hair growth through your diet alone, check out this list of the best foods for hair growth that you can start adding to your diet today.
Eggs are a great protein source and packed full of hair-healthy vitamins. They contain roughly 10 micrograms of biotin, a type of B vitamin that helps to promote hair growth and strengthen your hair follicles.
You've probably seen biotin included in all sorts of hair care products, but there's no need to buy it as it's found in dietary foods. As well as eggs, you can also find biotin in other healthy foods like salmon, avocados and almonds.
Another healthy hair benefit of eggs is that they're rich in vitamin D. You can get just over 10% of your daily vitamin D requirement from eggs, and this nutrient helps to support, strong, shiny hair.
A recent study found that vitamin D helps to promote the production of new hair follicles, which should encourage thicker hair. This is especially beneficial in older people, as hair tends to thin with age.
2. Almond Butter
Move over peanut butter- when it comes to hair growth and healthy hair follicles, almond butter reigns suprene. As well as protein, which is essential for hair growth, almond butter is also a rich source of nutrients like healthy fats and vitamin E, which help keep your hair thick and strong. According to one study, daily supplementation with vitamin E can promote hair growth by just over 30 percent.
Try to eat one to two tablespoons of almond butter per day to benefit from its vitamin E content. You can add it to your porridge or even mix it into stews, stir fries and curries. If you're not a fan of almond butter, snack on roasted almonds instead, which have the same high protein and vitamin E levels and can be added to almost every sweet or savory dish.
3. Greek yogurt
Greek yogurt is a great healthy snacking option for mid-mornings or evenings when you're peckish. When you reach for Greek yogurt instead of a low-nutrient sugary snack, you can benefit from this popular yogurt's protein and vitamin B5 content.
Also known as pantothenic acid, vitamin B5 is one of the most important hair growth minerals, thanks to its ability to protect and support the adrenal glands.
Unless you're a huge citrus fan, you probably don't add tangerines to your shopping cart every week. But these bright orange fruits can have hugely beneficial effects on your hair, and might just be the answer to healthy hair in the long run.
Containing a whole host of vitamins and having a high vitamin C content, tangerines support the body's iron absorption. You can find iron in foods like spinach and other dark leafy greens, and some red meats.
One study found that when you're deficient in iron, you're more prone to hair loss, so it's important that you add plenty of it to your daily diet. Coupling iron-rich foods with vitamin C-rich foods will help you to absorb the most iron to achieve your hair growth goals.
As we now know, spinach is important for keeping hair healthy as it's a great source of iron. Spinach is also high in manganese and B-vitamins, which may help benefit your hair - though it's more essential for preventing bone loss.
Additionally, spinach and other leafy greens have a high vitamin E content and help your hair to produce sebum, which is essential moisture for the hair and prevents strands from becoming dry and brittle and breaking off.
When you think of hair-healthy nutrients, omega-3 fatty acids are probably the first thing your brain jumps to. Omega-3s have anti-inflammatory properties that may prevent hair shedding that's caused by inflammation. You can also find omega-3s in plant-based protein sources like chia seeds, flaxseeds and walnuts if you're not a fan of fish.
Because it's a great source of omega-3 fatty acids, salmon, a fatty fish, may help the body to produce insulin. Considering insulin resistance is thought to cause hair loss in both men and women, it's theorized that salmon will help to promote hair growth.
Salmon is another great source of vitamin D, too, which, according to one study, may help to prevent thinning hair by stimulating dormant hair follicles.
How do you start your day - with a fatty fry-up, or with a bowl of something a little more nourishing? Oatmeal is incredibly healthy, thanks to its iron & zinc content.
Oats contain other nutrients, too, like omega-3 fatty acids, which, as we know, help hair grow at a faster rate. So start your day off with the right source of vitamins and minerals - you should notice hair growth benefits over time.
They're not to everyone's tastes, but if you're a fan of oysters, they're a great food to include in a balanced diet if you're looking to keep your scalp and hair healthy. Hair loss may be caused by a deficiency of zinc, so encouraging hair growth is as simple as adding more zinc to your diet. No need to buy zinc supplements when grilled oysters are such a great source of the nutrient.
Approximately six oysters contain around 30 milligrams of zinc, which is twice the amount you actually need in one day! Meat products also contain zinc, but if you're plant-based, you can find it in nuts, beans, seeds, oats, and tofu. Oysters also contain omega 3 fatty acids, and we already know that these healthy fats help promote hair growth and maintain a healthy scalp.
Skip the apples and bananas and opt for guavas if you're looking for the best foods for hair growth. Guavas are a great source of vitamin C, and a recent study found that vitamin C can prevent temporary hair loss. We always think of oranges when somebody mentions vitamin C, but actually, guavas contain about five times the vitamin C content of the popular citrus fruit.
We mentioned that almonds are great for hair growth, being a good source of vitamin E. But if walnuts are more your thing, you'll benefit from those, too. A recent review found that being deficient in linolenic and alpha-linolenic acids can result in hair loss, both on the scalp and on the eyebrows, and even hair lightening.
If you'd rather encourage hair growth than hair loss, snack on walnuts as part of a healthy, balanced diet, which are packed full of linolenic and alpha-linolenic acids.
Being rich in folic acid, lentils help the body to produce red blood cells. These cells travel to the heart, where they pick up oxygen and carry it all over the body, including to your scalp. Hair follicles rely on oxygen to thrive - so when there's an increased blood circulation in your scalp, hair growth is encouraged across the whole head.
They're a favorite porridge-topper and muffin ingredient, so it's great to know that as well as being generally healthy, blueberries are rich in antioxidants that support hair growth. According to a recent review, oxidative stress can result in hair loss, and antioxidants are needed to prevent this.
You'll find plenty of antioxidant B-vitamins in blueberries, so stock up if you want to keep your scalp and hair healthy.
Carrots contain something called beta-carotene. This is converted to vitamin A in the body, which is considered essential for healthy hair.
If you're dealing with dry, brittle hair, adding more carrots to your diet will promote the production of sebum, which ensures hair looks its best and maintains a top-quality feel. If you're not a fan of carrots, switch them out for other orange fruits and veggies, such as sweet potatoes, mangoes, and pumpkin.
It's healthy to use sweet potatoes instead of your usual white potatoes for cooking every day, as they're a better source of key nutrients on the whole.
Again, liver probably isn't for everyone, but it's a fantastic source of iron, which makes it one of the best foods for hair growth. It has been found to prevent hair thinning and encourage hair growth, especially in women.
You can find high iron levels in red meat, lentils, fish like sardines, and even pasta, so you still have options if you don't like liver. However, organ meats do tend to be the best source of nutrients, including iron, zinc, and biotin.
16. Shiitake Mushrooms
You probably didn't realize that copper is one of the important nutrients we need in our diet every day, but according to a recent report, it's essential to strengthen a protein called keratin. Keratin may help to thicken hair follicles, encouraging hair growth and even helping to prevent graying.
So, why shiitake mushrooms, you ask? Of all the mushrooms out there, they contain the highest source of copper. You can find dried shiitake mushrooms in most supermarkets, but you could also opt for sesame seeds or seaweed if shiitake mushrooms aren't your thing.
17. Black Beans
Beans are an important dietary staple, even if they're fairly boring to eat. However, beans are a fantastic protein source, and they also contain lysine, which is an essential amino acid that helps your body to absorb more zinc.
Unsurprisingly, then, studies have found that black beans in particular show promise when it comes to preventing hair loss and chronic hair thinning. Interestingly, even participants who saw no increase of hair growth when supplementing with iron alone benefited when adding lysine to their diets.
Halibut is another fatty fish on this list that's a good source of Omega-3 fatty acids. It's also high in magnesium, which you might not immediately link to hair, as it helps the body to produce insulin. But since diabetes can cause hair loss, it makes sense that regulating your insulin levels can keep your hair looking strong, thick and shiny.
Halibut isn't just good for hair growth, either - it has all sorts of health benefits that make it well worth including in your diet.
By now, you should start to be noticing a trend here - seafood may just be the best thing you can add to your diet for hair health. Clams are packed full of hair-growth vitamins and minerals, like vitamin A, B-vitamins like biotin, selenium, calcium, and potassium.
Clams are also rich in vitamin b12, which is considered one of the best nutrients for promoting hair growth and even reduce graying, and other B vitamins for hair growth. If you're not a fan of clams, you can also find vitamin B-12 in other protein-rich food sources, including fortified milk and animal products.
You should now have a pretty good idea of which foods are best for hair growth - but what about those you should avoid? Foods high in sugar may lead to hair loss they hinder the absorption of protein in the body, while refined grains (think white bread, cakes, pasta and pastries) get converted into sugar and behave in the same way. Alcohol can decrease zinc levels in the body, and swordfish is particularly high in mercury, which has been found in studies to relate to hair loss.
There's no need to spend hundreds on expensive hair growth products when our hair health is largely based on what we eat. Provided you eat the foods for hair growth mentioned in this list, and avoid those that may hinder hair growth, you should notice your hair looking healthier and feeling stronger in no time at all. Just remember to seek medical advice if you're noticing unusual hair loss that you can't link to a change in your diet.