Hair loss can come as a result of a number of factors, from hormones to an allergic reaction to certain products, with one of the most common being vitamin deficiencies. In this way, your diet can have a much larger impact on your overall appearance than you may have initially thought, and while the foods you eat have the capacity to invoke hair loss to begin with, they can also promote new and healthier hair growth moving forward.
If you’re looking to make smaller adjustments to your lifestyle to address hair loss before seeking out a professional, there’s one type of food which may be the most effective for promoting the growth of healthy strands. That being said, no single food is going to be a cure-all to hair loss, and it’s important not to expect overnight results when improving your wellbeing.
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Making sure your body is being fueled with proper nutrients is inarguably one of the best ways to promote healthy hair growth from the root. This comes down to prioritizing vitamin and mineral rich foods which can work to strengthen the individual strands, reducing the risk of breakage down the road. Rather than trying to narrow it down to one specific food, focusing on protein intake on the whole will offer your body what it needs for a great head of hair.
“The richest sources of the key nutrients are meat and seafood, for example: zinc from shellfish and red meat, iron from red meat, pork and poultry, and vitamin D from oily fish, egg yolks, red meat, and liver,” explains Dr. Dominic Burg, the chief scientist, hair biologist, microbiologist and trichologist for evolis Professional.
Focusing on protein, if you follow a vegan or vegetarian diet it can be helpful to consume foods such as legumes, leafy greens and nuts and seeds which not only offer plant-based protein, but also consist of a host of other nutrients, including but not limited to B vitamins. “The challenging aspect of vegetable based diets is that they contain a high number of foods that are rich in molecules known as phytates, particularly legumes, seeds, nuts and grains,” explains Burg.
“Phytates bind nutrients such as Zinc and prevent them from being absorbed, so those on vegetable-based diets need to up their intake of these nutrients, sometimes needing 150% of the intake of diets containing meats,” he adds.
Integrating ample protein into your diet will not only help boost your metabolism and allow for healthy muscle function, but it can also help to strengthen the length of your hair as your strands are made of protein themselves, as well as the vitamins and minerals found in protein. Burg provides a simple breakdown of the most important nutrients for hair growth: “Zinc is a key mineral critical for hair growth and vitamin D is important for stimulating the growth phase of the hair cycle. B vitamins help to support the energy production required for hair growth as well as other important metabolic functions, e.g., B6 helps replenish neurotransmitters affected by stress,” he notes.
Even after making these diet changes it would be unrealistic to expect to see changes in your hair overnight, and it will likely take changing more than just your eating habits for real results to show.
Once you’ve made the necessary changes to your diet to tailor your eating plan for hair growth, integrating a growth supplement and prioritizing scalp health are also essential for strong strands. “With a hair supplement, most people will start to see improved growth and less hair fall in the first few months,” says Burg.
Additionally, switching to a sulfate free shampoo and conditioner may take away that satisfying lather, but will do more in the long term to protect your hair from fallout. Ultimately your diet is only one piece of the puzzle when it comes to hair health, but eating more protein is a great way to get the necessary vitamins and minerals to start.