One of the reasons I became a Nutritionist was my passion for learning about how you can heal your body from the inside out not just in regards to illness and disease prevention but also cosmetically. I would always rather look to my diet to improve my hair and skin and have seen the dramatic results small nutritional changes can bring. If you are having any hair or skin issues I would always advise looking into dietary factors before forking out for expensive shampoos or creams. I am a firm believer that what you put inside your body determines how it looks on the outside. Often you won’t need to make huge changes to your diet to reap the benefits, small simple changes can usually do the trick.
What type of foods should I eat to make my hair grow faster?
This is one question I get asked all the time, along with how can I improve the condition of my hair or make it thicker and although there is no miracle food that will make your hair grow 10 inches overnight you can definitely help it along and make sure your new hair is as healthy as possible.
Nutrition and hair
All cells in the body including hair cells depend on a healthy balanced diet so it’s really important that you are not completely cutting out important food groups like so many fad diets do. It is also crucial that you are not deficient in certain vitamins or minerals as when you are, your hair is often one of the first places these deficiencies can show.
One of the first steps to ensuring your hair can grow is to eat foods that can strengthen the hair follicle, the healthier the hair follicles are the healthier your hair will be.
So what should we be eating?
Hair is made up of protein (mainly keratin) so ensuring we consume enough protein rich foods is necessary for strong healthy hair. Diets lacking in protein often result in dry and brittle hair that breaks easily. Low calorie diets that are almost always lacking in protein (and other vital nutrients) play havoc with your hair and skin health. I recommend women aim for around 80-100g daily depending on body weight and activity levels.
My top sources: Meat, fish, eggs, nuts, hemp seeds, Greek yoghurt
Omega 3 fats
Most of us don’t eat enough of these, we need them for hair to grow and also to keep the scalp moisturised, they also provide lots of other incredible health benefits such as helping us to burn body fat, decreasing risk of heart disease and decreasing joint pain to name a few.
My top sources: oily fish such as salmon and mackerel, avocados, and walnuts.
A deficiency in this mineral is thought to be a possible cause of hair loss so be sure to eat enough by making sure you consume a variety of zinc containing foods every day.
My top sources: Beef, Lamb, pumpkin seeds, oysters, nuts & eggs.
Beta Carotene (Vitamin A)
This antioxidant is needed by all cells in the body and promotes a healthy scalp helping hair to grow. As well as helping you on your way to healthier hair, beta carotene plays a big part in disease prevention and can help lower the risk of heart disease and certain cancers so make sure the below sources are on your weekly shopping list.
My top sources: Sweet potatoes, carrots, spinach, kale, tomatoes, watermelon, red peppers & paprika
Anaemia (iron-deficiency) disrupts the nutrient supply to the hair follicle affecting the hair growth cycle and may result in hair loss. If you’re not consuming enough iron you may notice your hair becoming thin and dry, you will possibly also notice your nails becoming dry and brittle. Red meat and other animal sources are excellent sources of bioavailable iron. Don’t worry if you’re vegetarian or vegan there are plenty of plant based sources of iron, however if you do think you may be deficient get your bloods checked at your doctors as supplementation is sometimes necessary.
Top sources: Red meat, lentils, beans, leafy greens such as kale, spinach and broccoli, seaweed (such as spirulina), mussels, pumpkin seeds.
Vitamin C aids the absorption of iron therefore it is a good idea to include a source of vitamin C when consuming these iron rich foods. Vitamin C is also fundamental for ensuring blood flows to the scalp and supports the blood vessels linked to the hair follicles. Some good combination examples could be: Lentils in a tomato based soup or stew, steak on a bed of spinach or a green juice alongside your iron rich meal.
Top sources: Berries, citrus fruits, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, broccoli.
Vitamin E is another powerful antioxidant that helps fight free radical damage and has been shown to have a positive effect on hair growth. Vitamin E plays a huge role in skin health and is anti ageing, helping to prevent fine lines and wrinkles
Top sources: Avocado, olive oil, almonds, sunflower seeds & walnuts.
Biotin is regularly described as the hair growth vitamin which explains why so many people who try and grow their hair take it as a supplement, both myself and my clients have had fantastic results without the need for Biotin supplementation so before you start taking extra Biotin first makes sure you are regularly eating some of the below foods.
My top sources: Eggs (especially the yolks), liver, almonds, sweet potato, oats, walnuts, salmon, peanut butter.
From the above list you will notice there are foods that keep cropping up aka the hair superfoods, try incorporating as many of these foods into your diet as you can and I’m confident that you will notice a big difference in the strength and condition of your hair.
I cannot stress enough that you should aim to consume enough of all of the above nutrients from your diet, however supplementation is sometimes necessary, the food we eat today is often processed in a way that has destroyed or reduced many of the natural nutrients and it can be sometimes hard to meet the recommended daily amounts through diet alone. Please contact me other health care professional if you think you may need a supplementation programme.
There are a number of other non dietary factors that can affect the hair growth cycle and hair quality including age, exposure to chemicals, genetics, hormonal imbalances and stress. Often nutritional factors are the at the root of the problem however please visit your GP if you are at all worried.
I hope you have found this blog post useful and thanks for reading,
Happy hair growing 🙂