The quest for beautifully thick and commercial quality hair is never-ending. Even the people with near perfect hair are constantly on the hunt for the newest, strangest, or cutting edge hair care routine. While rinsing with rice water, combing with olive oil, or using a DIY leave-in conditioner can all encourage healthier hair, including specific vitamins and minerals in your diet is the best way to promote hair growth.
Our Hair Needs Vitamins
If you want your immune system, heart, or colon to be healthier, you have to include certain foods in your diet. The same can be said if you want your hair to go from damaged to nourished. Most hair problems often result from nutritional deficiencies. An unhealthy diet has a major influence on the overall appearance and health of your hair, skin, and internal systems and organs. There are vitamins and minerals that work to strengthen hair follicles, use protein efficiently, and increase circulation to the scalp. Be sure to include the following vitamins and minerals in your diet for optimal hair health and growth.
The body needs iron for optimal growth and development, and to carry oxygen from the lungs to all other areas of the body, including your hair follicles. Iron also helps the body use protein for hair growth more efficiently. Several studies have shown that female pattern baldness (hair loss in the center of the scalp) is partially attributed to low iron levels. Great food sources of iron include green leafy vegetables, lentils, cashews, quinoa, chia seeds, hemp seeds, dried gifs, pumpkin seeds, and chickpeas.
The sunshine vitamin has more influence on overall health than people realize. People with low vitamin D levels can experience anything from reduced immune function to alopecia. According to research, vitamin D helps to create new hair follicles, the tiny pores from which new hair grows. Most people in the Western world are deficient in vitamin D, which is sad when you consider that 50-90% of our vitamin D intake comes from being in the sun. All you have to do is go outside, people! If you are sensitive to the sun and take vitamin D supplements, please be careful to not ingest too much because excess vitamin D can increase the risk of kidney stone formation.
Zinc is actually a popular ingredient in over-the-counter anti-dandruff shampoos. Being an essential trace mineral, zinc is involved in many physiological processes in the body. When it comes to your hair, zinc helps to repair damaged hair and maintain sebaceous gland function on the scalp. Some research revealed that low zinc levels contributed to hair loss, but more research is necessary on this matter. Because zinc is plentiful in a variety of foods, it is easy to add more of this mineral to your daily diet. Start eating pumpkin seeds, lentils, spinach, chickpeas, quinoas, walnuts, hemp seeds, wild rice, shiitake mushrooms, and black beans to increase zinc levels.
Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant that can help fight free radical damage, which can interfere with optimal hair growth. Limited research is available for vitamin E’s ability to slow hair loss, but other research shows that vitamin E adds a protective layer and increased shine to hair. Vitamin E oil is also beneficial for nourishing the scalp, especially if it is dry. One study found that people, who supplemented with vitamin E for eight months, experienced a 34.5% increase in hair growth. You can find vitamin E in avocados, spinach, almonds, sunflower seeds, hazelnuts, peanuts, pistachios, red bell peppers, Brazil nuts, mangos, and kiwis.
Vitamin B7 (Biotin)
Biotin is what you call an essential vitamin, meaning the body needs it to function properly. Dietary biotin helps the body turn the food you eat into energy, but it also breaks down protein into amino acids that your hair needs for optimal growth. Scientists say that biotin actually improves the body’s keratin infrastructure, and keratin is the protein that comprises your hair, skin, and nails. If you have sun-damaged hair or brittle hair from heat styling, biotin works to enhance the volume and strength of your hair. You can find biotin in peanuts, avocados, raspberries, walnuts, sweet potatoes, spinach, cauliflower, almonds, mushrooms, and broccoli.