Can our diet improve our hair health?

Guest Blog By Jamila Imani – Registered Clinical Nutritionist, BSc

What we eat plays a huge role towards the health of our hair. Ever wonder why? This article is going to explore some science behind it.

What role does our diet play in hair growth or hair loss?

We have approximately 120,000 hairs on our scalp, all of which require nourishment for optimal growth. However, our hair is not a vital organ and hence by default our body does not prioritise its nutritional needs. This is why a nutritional deficiency or imbalance will often show up first in form of hair loss.

How fast our hair grows depends on certain factors like age, health, genetics and diet. While we can’t change factors such as age and genetics, diet is one thing we have control over.

Your hair cells, as well as the cells throughout your body, need a balance of proteins, complex carbohydrates, iron, vitamins and minerals to function at their best.

Nutritional Must Do’s for healthy hair

  1. Eat Breakfast

Energy to form healthy hair cells is at its lowest when you wake up. Eat a nutrient dense balanced breakfast of protein and complex carbs for improving hair health.

  • Stay Hydrated

Our scalp like any other part of the skin can became dehydrated and therefore drinking approximately 2 liters of water or more in hotter climates helps your scalp stay hydrated.

  • Snack Healthily

Snack in between meals, to sustain energy levels, on fruits and nuts. These are loaded with vitamin E, C, omega 3 and so much more that helps in hair growth and health.

  • Have adequate protein intake

Our hair is made up of protein and thus including adequate amount of protein in our diet helps optimize hair health

  • Eggs and beans are a great source of protein and biotin,
  • Nuts and seeds are also a good source of not just protein but omega 3 and vitamin E. All important in hair nourishment.
  • Red meat in particular is rich in iron. Try to eat lean red meat at least twice a week, especially if you are menstruating.
  • Vitamin C for iron absorption

Our bodies need vitamin C for absorption of iron and for collagen production. Lemon, sweet peppers and spinach are good source of vitamin C.

  • Eat a Varied diet

Adding variety to our diet ensures that we are getting a wide range of essential nutrients from all food groups.

  • Eat those antioxidant and omega 3 rich foods

Antioxidant help reduce the amount of oxidative stress on hair follicles. Fatty fish, avocados, nuts and seeds are all good sources of vitamin E and omega 3. Some fruits likeberries have essential antioxidant properties and can be included in our diet.

Food for thought!

Like any other part of your body, hair needs a variety of nutrients to be healthy and to grow. In fact, many nutritional deficiencies are linked to hair loss. Ever thought of why most hair masks are made of mayonnaise, avocado, berries, coconut oil, milk and more? Then why don’t we eat our nutrients instead! Correcting our diet will not only benefit our scalps but will go an extra mile of nourishing our bodies internally as well.

Should You Take a Hair Supplement?

Food is the best source of the vitamins you need for hair growth. However, if you fail to get enough in your diet, supplements may be helpful. According to research, supplements work best in individuals who are already deficient. It is best to work with a professional to determine if you have a deficiency or not.

Always remember, at the end of the day, the best way to get these nutrients is by eating a balanced, real food-based diet that includes plenty of nutrient-dense foods.

Take home message

The best step we can take is to prevent hair loss and thinning is by maintaining an optimal nutrition status. Always eat a balanced diet and stay hydrated.

Disclaimer: Check in with an expert if you feel that you are experiencing significant hair loss or if hair loss is associated with other symptoms such as acne, facial hair, or irregular menses. This could be a sign of an underlying condition which has been overlooked.

To find out more about Jamila please be sure to follow her or get in touch:

Instagram: @nutritionbyjamila

Email: nutritionbyjamila@gmail.com

References

Almohanna HM, Ahmed AA, Tsatalis JP, Tosti A. The Role of Vitamins and Minerals in Hair Loss: A Review. Dermatol Ther (Heidelb). 2019 Mar;9(1):51-70. doi: 10.1007/s13555-018-0278-6. Epub 2018 Dec 13. PMID: 30547302; PMCID: PMC6380979.

Biotin. (2010, November) healthonline.washington.edu/document/health_online/pdf/Biotin_11_10.pdf

Finner AM. Nutrition and hair: deficiencies and supplements. Dermatol Clin. 2013 Jan;31(1):167-72. doi: 10.1016/j.det.2012.08.015. Epub 2012 Oct 18. PMID: 23159185.

Glynis, A. (2012, November). A double-blind, placebo-controlled study evaluating the efficacy of an oral supplement in women with self-perceived thinning hair. The Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology, 5(11), 28–34 ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3509882/

Glynis, A. (2015, March 10). A 3-month, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study evaluating the ability of an extra-strength marine protein supplement to promote hair growth and decrease shedding in women with self-perceived thinning hair. Dermatology Research and Practice hindawi.com/journals/drp/2015/841570/

Guo EL, Katta R. Diet and hair loss: effects of nutrient deficiency and supplement use. Dermatol Pract Concept. 2017 Jan 31;7(1):1-10. doi: 10.5826/dpc.0701a01. PMID: 28243487; PMCID: PMC5315033.

Rushton DH. Nutritional factors and hair loss. Clin Exp Dermatol. 2002 Jul;27(5):396-404. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-2230.2002.01076.x. PMID: 12190640.

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