It can be overwhelming trying to figure out the best hair care routine to keep your hair healthy. The markets are flowing with a steady stream of hair products, and sometimes it can be hard to decipher which ones to use. However, in all the glitz and glamour, we tend to forget that a nourishing diet for hair growth is important for our hair’s good health. Having the proper foods in your system can improve your hair health immensely.
Your strands need the proper vitamins, minerals, and nutrients in order to keep them healthy. While much of hair growth is genetic, a big portion of your overall health (and the health of your hair) depends very much on the foods you choose to eat. It may surprise you how a little thing like changing your diet can make your hair grow thicker, stronger, and with more shine. Today we’re going to go over the ways you can change your diet for hair growth.
A plant-based balanced diet is predominately crucial for keeping your hair, nails, and skin to top shape. Then come the lean proteins, vitamins, iron, B-complex vitamins, fat-soluble vitamins, and omega-3 fatty acids, which also play a crucial role in your diet.
Today, we will discuss the best diet for hair growth and the foods you need to eat regularly to help your hair remain strong and healthy.
Best Foods and Diet for Hair Growth
A balanced diet full of good, healthy food is the first step in keeping a good head of hair (it’s also the first step in keeping a good healthy body), but there are definitely some foods that are better than others at helping those hairs on your head grow thicker, stronger, and shinier.
Eggs have been called a wonder food for many reasons, and it’s no surprise why: eggs are packed with all the nutrients that a little chick needs to grow–everything it gets its nourishment from is right there in that egg. So when we eat an egg, we’re getting all of those essential, healthy nutrients, too
The first two are protein (which eggs are packed with) and biotin (which we’ll talk about in a minute). Both are hugely important when it comes to a full head of hair. Eggs are among the best sources of biotin and protein, the two most important nutrients for hair growth. A deficiency of protein in your body leads to hair loss because protein makes up the majority of your hair follicles.
Biotin is so essential to hair growth that you’ll find it in virtually every hair growth supplement. It’s the chemical that’s responsible for the production of keratin, a vital part of a great head of hair.
The shocking thing is that eating a standard healthy diet of meat, vegetables, and dairy might leave you low on biotin, leading to a biotin deficiency (and therefore a harder time growing hair). Adding some eggs, or taking some supplements, is an important part of your hair care regimen.
Read more about how to utilize eggs for hair growth: DIY Hair Growth
2. Salmon and Other Fatty Fish
Now, all fish is good for you–we’re not debating that. All fish is good and has its place in a nutritious diet. But fatty fish (salmon, herring, mackerel among others) are excellent sources of Omega-3 fatty acids, and hair loves Omega-3s.
Salmon packs an abundance of protein and omega-3 fatty acids, so you can just imagine how it can keep your strands strong. Salmon is good for your hair, but it can also reduce inflammation in the body and scalp and boost your central nervous system.
Numerous studies have shown that taking Omega-3 and Omega-6 supplements (which you can either take as a fish oil pill or as a delicious fillet of salmon) have reduced hair loss and increased hair density. These are only preliminary studies and need to be researched more, but they’re a good indication that if you have to choose between the chicken and fish, and you’re concerned about what’s on top of your head, you might want to try the fish.
Vitamins and healthy compounds in berries can boost your hair growth. They also contain powerful antioxidant properties and vitamin C. Thus, your hair follicles get added immunity against damage by free radicals.
Free radicals are harmful molecules existing naturally in the environment and your body, and you need to arm your body with agents to fight them. A cup of berries daily would provide you with a whopping 114% of vitamin C needs.
One recommendation to incorporate berries into your daily diet is to use them in your smoothies at home. They add the perfect sweet flavor to your favorite smoothie of choice.
Read more: Smoothies for Hair Growth
Popeye might not have had luscious locks, but you can if you eat your spinach. Spinach is a powerhouse of folate, iron, magnesium, the all-important goodness of B vitamins, Vitamin A and C, all of which have been linked in studies to increased hair growth. Vitamin A, in particular, creates a substance called sebum, which is the oil that helps your scalp stay healthy. Several leafy greens are tremendous sources of nutrients and provide those dense benefits your hair desperately needs for stronger growth.
Additionally, the vitamin C of the dark leafy greens will support your cell membranes and keep your hair follicles active.
And don’t forget about the iron in spinach! While iron might not be linked to growing more hair, an iron deficiency has definitely been linked to losing it. Eating a cup of spinach a day, with a salad or on a sandwich, is a great way to make sure your mane is magnificent.
5. Sweet Potatoes
Good hair growth needs a lot of vitamin A, and sweet potatoes are a great source. The beta-carotene compound converts into vitamin with your body’s help and gives your hair health just the boost it needs.
A medium sweet potato, say about 114 grams, is sufficient to provide beyond four times your daily requirement of vitamin A. Resources also suggest vitamin A helps produce sebum, an essential component for keeping hair healthy.
6. Chia Seeds
If you want a vegan or vegetarian source of omega-3 acids, then Chia seeds are one of the best options. They are rich in antioxidants and fiber. Chia seeds are a complete protein and a nutritional powerhouse, containing 20% extra protein than soybeans.
These shelf-stable tiny seeds are great additions to your smoothies, cereals, puddings, and any heart-boosting healthy baked good. They make sure to help keep your locks looking luscious and beautiful.
As if we needed another excuse to eat guacamole! Delicious, healthy, and good for your hair!
Avocados are phenomenal for your healthy fats needs and are only nutritious but also quite delicious. Avocados are a source of Vitamin E, which has been shown in some studies to promote hair growth. Granted, you’re going to need more Vitamin E than one avocado can give you: a single one has about 20% of the Vitamin E you need for your recommended daily serving. (But who’s to stop you from sneaking a little more avocado on your salad.)
Vitamin E is an antioxidant like vitamin C and can fight off oxidative stress when it neutralizes your free radicals. One thing we know for certain about Vitamin E is that it’s good for your skin, especially for your scalp. Damaged skin can lead to fewer strands of hair per square inch.
8. Sweet Peppers
When you think of a food with a lot of Vitamin C your mind usually goes straight to the orange, right? Well think again, because a sweet pepper has more than five times the amount of Vitamin C that an orange does–and they’re delicious.
Vitamin C helps with collagen, which strengthens your hair, and it’s an antioxidant, which protects your hair from oxidative stress. So, stronger and shinier hair, just for eating a pepper!
Pumpkin is a popular squash but can be a tremendous hair health booster. It contains merely 83 calories and fats less than a gram but packs an abundance of beta-carotene and iron. These are the precursors of vitamin A so you can figure its importance for your hair.
Your hair needs plenty of vitamins E and C to repair from damage, and pumpkin can give you just that. Therefore, it would be great to try out all those pumpkin recipes in your cookbook starting today. Gorgeous locks can follow soon!
Don’t look away now! Some people adore oysters and some people abhor them, but an oyster does wonders for your locks. Oysters are nature’s leading source of zinc.
Zinc is a mineral that helps hair grow and keeps it strong, and a zinc deficiency can cause something called “telogen effluvium” which is a common (but reversible) form of hair loss. But have no fear: hair lost due to a zinc deficiency can be grown back by eating more zinc–swallowing those Oysters Rockefeller.
Nuts make a great snack at any time of any day. If we’re to be honest, we only need an excuse to grab a handful of our favorite variety. The best part of nuts is they consist of a wide variety of nutrients that can do wonders for your hair.
Twenty-eight grams of almond, for example, would provide approximately 37% of your vitamin E needs daily. Additionally, they also give your body the extra doses of essential fatty acids, zinc, vitamin B varieties, and others it needs. Many times, the cause of hair loss is a deficiency of those nutrients in the body.
For seafood that is a little less controversial than an oyster, give shrimp a try. Shrimp seem to have it all the things we’ve already mentioned and more: protein, Vitamin B, zinc, iron, and Vitamin D.
In fact, a 3.5 oz serving of shrimp will give you 38% of your daily dose of Vitamin D (and a deficiency of that leads to hair loss). But who wants to stop eating shrimp at just 3.5ozs!
Peas, beans, lentils, and chickpeas are all pulses and pack sufficient amounts of plant-based fiber and protein. Pulses provide an endless list of benefits for your health, most importantly, your hair.
Cheaper than buying meat, pulses contain rich amounts of folic acids, fiber, protein, B-complex vitamins, and renew vital cells for increased hair growth.
Looking for something that is a little more of a do-it-all wonder food? Try soybeans. Whether in edamame, tofu, soy sauce, soymilk–there’s nothing this little bean can’t do, including growing hair.
Soybeans contain the compound spermidine, and in a study it was found that people taking spermidine had their active hair growth prolonged during the anagen phase (which is the phase in which hair grows the most).
15. Broccoli, Oranges, Asparagus
You can find a rich amount of B vitamin folate in broccoli, oranges and asparagus. We attribute this nutrient to gene synthesis and the formation of red blood cells. Red blood cells are responsible for carrying oxygen, nutrients, and vitamins to the scalp to keep the hair healthy.
This nutrient is also one of the most active components for breaking down the protein in your body and providing building blocks for your hair follicles.
Did we say something about sweet peppers and oranges being packed with Vitamin C? Well take the guava. One cup of guava has more than four times your daily needed dose of Vitamin C, and that will keep that hair from breaking (with the side bonus of keeping colds at bay).
17. Plain Yogurt
You can never overestimate the power of plain yogurt is replenishing and nourishing your hair. It works as a powerful agent in boosting your hair health, improving the texture, shine, and strength of the strands and giving your hair follicles the abundant amount of protein they need.
Plain Greek yogurt has ample amounts of protein in it and is so versatile; you can incorporate it in a huge variety of ways in your daily diet. Take it in your smoothie for breakfast, or plain with granola and fruit added. Greek yogurt is packed with protein, which we’ve already said is a hair winner. But this yogurt is also full of Vitamin B5 (aka pantothenic acid) which can reverse thinning and hair loss. (If you read your shampoo bottles carefully–and you’re buying the right products–you may find pantothenic acid in the ingredients.)
The best part of yogurt is the probiotics; the friendly bacteria that help your body absorb all the essential nutrients.
Raw garlic contains minerals, vitamins (B-6 and C), selenium, and manganese, all of which are essential promoters of hair growth. Garlic can be known for strengthening the scalp and circulating blood flow to the scalp tissue.
The unique thing about this herb is that it can be consumed in your diet or can be used as a topical treatment directly on the scalp and hair.
Read more: Garlic for Hair Growth
Foods to Avoid in Your Diet for Hair Growth
We all know sugar isn’t the best thing in the world, but is it bad for your hair? Turns out it can be. Sugar inhibits the absorption of protein, which is essential to a good head of hair.
Starchy Refined Grains
Another thing we’re always told to eat in moderation is white flour, and that applies here. This goes back to the sugar above: when you eat too much over-processed starch your body turns it into sugar, and sugar blocks protein.
Alcohol dehydrates you, which is bad enough, but it also decreases the levels of zinc in your body. If you’re going out of your way to eat more zinc and follow it with some alcohol, you’re not doing yourself any favors.
Swordfish (and other “Large” Fish)
Now, we know you’re not likely to be scoping out the swordfish fillet at the market every day. But unlike salmon and your more common seafoods, swordfish and other large fish can be detrimental to your hair health.
Swordfish is high in mercury, which should raise your eyebrows as it is. Mercury may be linked to hair loss (among other things). A good rule of thumb: the bigger the fish, the more mercury is in it.
What Are Some Food Trade Offs You Can To Enhance Your Diet for Hair Growth?
We’ve talked about a lot of foods here, good and bad, but even in a healthy diet there are definitely some which are better than others. Here are some substitutes:
Oatmeal instead of Cereal
While we know it’s convenient to pour yourself a bowl of cereal–even healthy, Vitamin-enriched cereals–there’s none of them that can beat a good bowl of oatmeal. Oats are rich in iron, fiber, zinc, omega-3 fatty acids (remember how important those are?) and polyunsaturated fats, all of which stimulate hair growth and make it thick.
Lentils instead of Pinto Beans
A pinto bean is good, and we could have put it on this list for a lot of reasons, but if you have to choose something to swap it for, try lentils. They’re chock full of folic acid which helps your body make red blood cells. More red blood cells means more oxygen flowing, including to your scalp.
Liver instead of Beef
We know! We know! Who wants to eat liver? You do! Most people have never even tried liver–they just assume it’s gross, but it’s really delicious when cooked right. Liver (and all organ meats) is absolutely packed with iron. Try a new type of food! Your tongue and your hair will love you!
Barley instead of White Rice
Barley is delicious and it has a whopping dose of Vitamin E, which helps promote hair growth. White rice doesn’t do much for you at all.
Shiitake Mushrooms instead of Button Mushrooms
They’re right next to each other in the store, but odds are you usually reach for the button mushrooms. But shitake have copper in them, and a 2012 study showed that the copper in shitake mushrooms helped hair maintain its color and keep the gray away!
Conclusion: Is a Healthy Diet for Hair Growth Important?
YES! A healthy diet for hair growth is extremely important. The right diet can do wonders for your hair health.
The right diet goes a long way in providing the essential nutrients and vitamin needs of your body and ensures that no deficiency surfaces to cause negative consequences. Hair loss can often result from a poor diet, and you must, therefore, ensure that you include all the right foods in your daily diet to give your hair the best chance to thrive.
To learn more about foods for hair growth, read Top 4 Foods to Stay Away From When it Comes to Hair Health
Diet for Hair Growth FAQs
What should I eat to stop hair loss?
Some of the best foods you can incorporate into your daily diet to stop hair loss are eggs, salmon, nuts, spinach, berries and avocados.
Which fruit is best for hair growth?
Some of the best fruits to increase your hair growth are berries. This includes strawberries, raspberries, blueberries and more.
How does diet affect hair?
Your diet can directly impact the health of your hair. If you are not including the proper foods into your daily diet, your hair will not be getting the proper vitamins, minerals, and nutrients it needs to remain strong and healthy.
How can I thicken my hair?
One of the easiest and most effective ways to increase the thickness of your hair is by consuming a healthy diet on a daily basis. You can also consider using a FDA-cleared laser cap to thicken your hair.