Protein is one of the building blocks of life, promoting cell growth and repair—and it boosts your hair strength, too! Women should get at least 46 grams a day (3 ounces of chicken has about 23). Follow this guide to determine exactly how much protein you should be consuming daily.
Protein Rich Foods
- Fish such as Cod, Tuna and Salmon
- Diary products like Cheese, Yogurt and Milk
- Lean Poultry (Turkey, Chicken and Duck etc.)
- Lean Beef, Mutton and Veal
- Tofu and Soymilk
- Beans (Kidney Beans, Black Beans, Mung Beans etc.)
- Nuts and Seeds (Peanut, Almonds, Pistachios, Flaxseed, Pumpkin and Sunflower seeds)
Iron and Other Nutrients
Protein isn’t the only nutrient needed to maintain healthy hair. You also need iron, vitamin E, and trace minerals such as selenium, copper, and magnesium to help keep your hair in good shape. “These are all involved in the production of the various proteins that make up your hair,” says Christine Gerbstadt, MD, RD, spokeswoman for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (formerly called the American Dietetic Association).
Not getting enough iron can cause hair loss. Iron increases the tensile strength of the hair shaft and promotes hair growth. Without iron, your hair can become thin, dull, and dry. It facilitates oxygen transfer to the cells, allowing them to work at their maximum potential.
What Foods Are High In Iron?
“The best source of iron in your diet is meat,” Gerbstadt says. Clams, oysters, and organ meat top the list “But there are problems with eating a lot of organ meat,” Gerbstadt says. “Lean meat, though — pork, beef, and fish — are all good sources.”
Good vegetarian sources of iron include fortified cereals, soybeans, pumpkin seeds, white beans, lentils, and spinach. The problem with iron from non-animal sources is that the body absorbs iron less efficiently from plants. “It’s possible to eat a vegetarian diet paying attention to iron and still not get enough,” Gerbstadt says. To boost iron absorption, pair nonmeat sources, such as soybeans or lentils, with a vitamin C-rich food like an orange.
Talk with your doctor about your diet and ask for an iron test so your doctor can check on whether you should consider taking an iron supplement.
Besides Iron, zinc helps hair follicles to grow, says Wilma Bergfeld, MD, a dermatologist at the Cleveland Clinic. She suggests eating lean red meat, which is rich in both nutrients, twice a week.
Zinc helps maintain hormonal balance and hence reduces hair fall and graying.
What Foods Are High In Zinc?
- Sweet potatoes
Several studies have shown that magnesium deficiency results in abnormal hair growth. Magnesium promotes follicle health, which results in healthy hair growth.
Magnesium Rich Foods
- Wild rice
Several studies have found that vitamin D may play a role in the hair cycle to help activate hair growth. ” However, D is a tricky vitamin. Few foods contain it naturally, and although we can get vitamin D from the sun,by sitting in the sun for a few minutes a day, many experts advise against it due to the increased exposure to harmful UV rays. Your best bet? Take a 1,000 IU supplement daily, and try these recipes that contain vitamin D.
You can also get vitamin D from fortified foods such as milk, orange juice, and cereals. But, Mirmirani says, according to some studies, many Americans don’t get enough vitamin D, “and the actual recommended dosage is controversial.” She recommends talking with your doctor about your vitamin D needs and whether or not you should take a supplement.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Eat fatty fish (like salmon) twice a week for hydrated hair, or take up to 1 gram a day of a DHA and EPA supplement. In addition to silky hair, omega-3s may help relieve depression and are a proven heart-helper.
Vitamin A plays an important role in proper cell growth, which directly influences hair growth. It helps produce the natural oils, also known as sebum, on your scalp. This gives your hair a healthy gloss and shine. Vitamin A contains antioxidants that moisturize the scalp and prevent the hair from drying out. This is one of the best vitamins for hair growth and thickness.
Foods Rich In Vitamin A
- Sweet potatoes
- Egg yolk
- Dried apricots
Vitamin B-Complex and Biotin
The B-Complex vitamins are essential micronutrients that ensure optimal health and well being. They are water-soluble and have minimal risk of toxicity. Among the various roles they play in overall health, they benefit healthy hair growth because they are required for the growth and development of the superficial layers of the skin and its appendages.
Biotin (B7) has gained popularity because it is essential for maintaining the texture, tone and strength of your locks, and a deficiency can lead to hair loss. This vitamin can also be used to treat cradle cap; a scalp condition which affects infants. Eggs are rich in this B vitamin essential for growth. (They’re also an excellent source of protein, choline, and vitamin D.) Not an egg fan? You could also take 30mcg supplement daily.
However, all of the B vitamins are important for healthy hair, along with a host of other nutrients that support the metabolic requirements of follicle cells.
Biotin is most effective when it is taken with zinc. Zinc prevents hair shedding. The other B-complex vitamins that are vital are as follows:
- B1 (Thiamin), B2 (Riboflavin), and B3 (Niacin) contribute to the proper nourishment of hair follicle cells.
- B5 (Pantothenic Acid) gives the hair flexibility, shine and helps to prevent hair loss.
- B6 (Pyridoxine) helps to prevent dandruff.
- B9 (Folic Acid) plays a major role in making your hair thicker and shinier while adding moisture. It also helps in preventing graying of hair.
- B12 (Cobalamin) also helps in the prevention of hair loss.
Given below is a list of the different foods containing Vitamin B complex:
- B 1 (Thiamin): Beans, liver, wheat germ, fish, peanuts and oranges
- B 2 (Riboflavin): Green and leafy veggies, dairy products, nuts, beans and meat
- B 3 (Niacin): Nuts, meat, dairy products, beans and peanuts
- B 5 (Pantothenic Acid): Beans, liver and meat
- B 6 (Pyridoxine): Beans, meat and peanuts
- B 7 (Biotin): Clams, liver, eggs and milk
- B 9 (Folic Acid): Vegetables that are leafy & dark green in color, beans, liver & oranges
- B 12 (Cobalamin): Eggs, meat & dairy products such as milk, yogurt & cheese
Vitamin C is a hair growth vitamin that can prevent premature graying and hair dryness efficiently. This is because it plays a part in the production of collagen, a protein that is vital for hair growth and thickness. Daily intake of vitamin C through food items or supplements is necessary to maintain the health of your hair.
Vitamin C Rich Foods
Vitamin E is an antioxidant that builds and repairs tissue, making it essential for hair growth. It battles free radicals and is another vital vitamin for hair growth. It locks in moisture and protects your hair from drying out. Apart from this, it also keeps the scalp healthy and promotes blood circulation.
Vitamin E Rich Foods
- Cooked spinach
- Sunflower seeds
- Dried herbs