While it’s important to use hair products with nourishing ingredients, it’s much more important to nourish your hair from within. Sure, having a solid hair care regimen helps, but the bottom line is that healthy hair starts with a healthy diet. Here’s a list of vitamins and nutrients that encourage the growth of healthy hair and some of the food sources that supply them.
Protein - More than 90 percent of your hair is made up of protein so you need to have enough protein in your diet to support hair growth. For most people in the U.S. that’s not a problem. Foods such as meat, poultry, fish, eggs, and dairy products are high in protein. Vegetarians can get protein from plant sources such as soybeans, seeds, and nuts.
Beta-Carotene - This antioxidant can help your body synthesize protein. It may encourage hair growth and help prevent hair loss. Look for it in fruits and vegetables, especially orange ones like carrots.
Vitamin A - Vitamin A fosters scalp health. Many orange fruits and vegetables — cantaloupe, apricots, squash, sweet potatoes, and carrots — are good sources of vitamin A, as is broccoli.
B Vitamins - The nutrients in this family of vitamins, often called B-complex vitamins, may help promote hair growth and prevent hair loss and breakage. Vitamin B3 (niacin) may nourish hair follicles, while vitamins B5, B6, and B12 may prevent both hair loss and premature graying. B vitamins can be found in poultry, beef, fish, eggs, whole grains, beans, sunflower seeds, peas, nuts, leafy green vegetables, and fortified breads and cereals.
Biotin - Having a biotin deficiency can leave your scalp itchy and scaly. To help keep your scalp healthy, choose biotin-rich meats, fish, eggs, dairy foods, nuts, whole grains, and molasses.
Vitamin C - Vitamin C helps your body absorb iron. It also helps keep your blood vessels healthy, helps prevent hair breakage, and promotes hair growth. All the citrus fruits — grapefruit, oranges, lemons, limes, tangerines, and so on — are high in vitamin C, as are berries and melons.
Vitamin E - This antioxidant vitamin helps your cells repair themselves and facilitates your body’s synthesis of protein. It also encourages hair growth and aids in circulation. You can find it in green vegetables, olive oil, whole grains, beans, nuts, and avocados.
Vitamin K - This vitamin can promote hair health. Find it in seafood, eggs, liver, dairy products, green vegetables, figs, cabbage, oatmeal, yogurt, and wheat.
Para-aminobenzoic - This nutrient might help stave off gray hair. Look for it in yogurt, whole grains, and some organ meats (like liver).
Minerals - A range of minerals, including trace minerals, can help promote hair growth and protect against hair breakage. Key among them are silica, calcium, iron, copper, and zinc. These minerals are found in a broad range of unprocessed foods, including meats, seafood, nuts, seeds, liver, eggs, rice, oats, whole-grain cereals, sunflower seeds, lettuce, onion, cauliflower, cabbage, cucumber, bean sprouts, leafy green vegetables, strawberries, dates, and raisins. Organic foods frequently have higher concentrations of trace minerals than conventionally grown foods.
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