A lot of people, regardless of age, are looking for ways to make their hair strong and luscious. Although your hair grows at a rate of 1.25cm (1/2 an inch) per month, this can be affected by genetics, overall health, age and diet.
Of course, age and genetics are not within your control but your diet is one aspect that you definitely can alter.
You may not know what to eat for healthy hair, which is why we're here to help you.
Why Nutrition Affects Hair Growth
Apart from intestinal cells, all cells to do with your hair are the fastest-growing ones in your body but, because it's not a vital organ, your body won't prioritise pushing nutrients to it.
This is why it is important for us to consciously think about our hair's health when choosing our diets and food.
Hair and Vitamins
Having healthy hair isn't just about using a deep conditioner and organic shampoo, it is also about consuming the right vitamins, in the correct amounts.
Whether you ingest your vitamins for healthy hair through supplements or through the food you choose to eat (ideally, it needs to be both), you will be required to know which vitamins your hair needs.
Don't worry if you aren't sure, we are here to tell you.
Our bodies need iron to form red blood cells which carry oxygen. These oxygenated cells then flow to the hair follicles and help your hair to grow.
This is also known as vitamin B7, but you have probably come across the name 'biotin' more. It is essential for the creation of keratin protein, which are the foundations of your hair.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Many people know that Omega-3 is vital for the heart, brain and skin but it is also incredibly important for the lubrication of the scalp and hair follicles to stimulate growth.
Vitamin D3 regulates gene expression in pretty much all cells in the body. As it promotes standard cell growth, it supports the hair follicles to produce longer, healthier hair.
Protein metabolism (the various processes your body goes through to break down protein) is boosted with this vitamin. Not to mention that it will increase the effectiveness of your intestinal absorption of this macronutrient too.
Best Breakfast Foods for Healthy Skin and Hair
There is a lot of food that is good for hair and you probably already eat some of the items that we will talk about anyway, so you are off to a good start!
With most diets, your first meal of the day is a brilliant time to pack in a lot of nutrition and the same can be said when choosing breakfast for healthy skin and hair.
So, without further ado, the best diet plan for healthy skin and hair will include some of these foods in varying amounts:
As we have previously mentioned, protein and biotin are a necessity for promoting hair growth so it may come as no surprise that eggs are on this list; they are a wonderful source of these two nutrients.
Moreover, this food is also a good source of selenium and zinc which are also factors in keeping your hair nice and healthy.
Research has shown that a deficiency in biotin has caused various counts of hair loss.
Berries come with a high level of antioxidants and vitamins which support the growth and health of your hair.
Vitamin C is one of the major ones which produces collagen, a form of protein that strengthens your hair to prevent a lot of damage and breakage.
They have an abundance of vitamin E and healthy fats which will knock out free radicals and protect the skin on your scalp (which, if irritated, will hinder hair growth and lessen the overall health of it).
Remember that fatty acids were listed in the 'Hair and Vitamins' section? Well, it was for a good reason! Hair loss has been linked to low levels of fatty acids.
Another food for healthy hair is nuts. Not only are they convenient ingredient to eat at breakfast because you can take them with you on your commute, but they also provide vitamin B, zinc, fatty acids and vitamin E.
By adding nuts into your diet, you will benefit from a lower risk of heart disease and all-round less inflammation as well as your healthy hair.
A plant-based product but a great source of protein none the less. We have already established that protein is crucial for hair growth and maintenance but, beans also provide you with quite a lot of zinc, biotin, folate and iron too.
If you aren't sure, zinc is a mineral which aids in your hair's repair cycle.
Oats are packed with iron, fibre, omega-3 fatty acids and PUFAs (polyunsaturated fatty acids) which all boost hair growth.
Not only that, but a few of these compounds help to thicken up your locks too!
Other Foods to Try for Healthy Hair
Breakfast isn't the only meal of the day so we thought we would tell you about some other foods that make your hair grow that you can include in your lunches and dinners.
A much-loved favourite by many, the vitamin D, Omega-3 fatty acids and proteins this fish contains is perfect for encouraging hair health and growth.
Soybeans have spermidine in abundance and studies, both conducted in test tubes and on 100 healthy people, have shown that this compound enables the hair follicle to stay in its anagen phase for longer.
The anagen phase is the stage at which your hair is growing so, ingesting spermidine will help with lengthening.
Proteins that are present in meat repairs and bolsters your hair follicles. Even if you just eat one serving of cooked steak, you are ingesting 29 grams of protein so it shouldn't be too hard to eat enough!
Red meat, like steak, is also a fantastic source of easily absorbable iron — another mineral that, as we have mentioned, is paramount for oxygen delivery to cells and thus, hair growth.
Although shellfish isn't loved by the masses, shrimp, in particular, has great hair growing potential.
It harbours a wealth of protein, vitamins B, zinc, iron and vitamin D which all help to ramp up your hair's health.
We have mentioned zinc in many of the foods here but, oysters are one of the most reliable sources of this mineral. If you are suffering from telogen effluvium (a form of hair loss) then eating oysters can improve your zinc levels and reverse this.
Much like carrots, sweet potatoes provide beta-carotene which your body then turns into vitamin A. This then encourages sebum to produce which is an essential factor to having healthy hair.
Plus, you only need to eat one average-sized sweet potato to gain 4 times your daily amount of vitamin A.
Vitamin C and A are major factors of what makes up a sweet pepper. Surprisingly, yellow peppers have about 5 times more vitamin C than an orange!
Whether you like spinach or not, we all know that it is packed full of nutrients that improve the health of many organs within our body — this extends to our hair too because of the presence of iron and vitamins A and C.
Folic acid aids your body in the process of making red blood cells will which then be pushed around your body, up to the scalp to provide your hair follicles with oxygen.
Now you know exactly what to eat for healthy hair, there is no reason why, in a few months, you won't have the beautiful, flowing locks you have always dreamed of!