You are what you eat — well, your hair is, at least. Anabel Kingsley, a trichologist at the Philip Kingsley Trichological Clinic in London stresses the importance of a balanced diet when it comes to having an amazing head of hair. “Hair is a non-essential tissue, so nutrients go to the organs and tissues that are essential first and hair is the last to receive what is left,” she says. “If you’re deficient in any mineral, then your hair is really going to feel the effects of that.”
Here, the key nutrients for growing — and maintaining — healthy, lush hair.
“Protein provides strands with the building blocks it needs to grow in strong and lessen shedding in excess,” says Kingsley. Protein-rich foods include eggs, salmon, cottage cheese, quinoa and nuts. “A half-size portion at breakfast and lunch will give hair what it needs,” she adds.
“Hair cells replicate faster than any other cells in your body, so they require a lot of energy,” explains Kingsley. Complex carbohydrates (think whole wheat bread, sweet potatoes and brown rice) provide cells with a slow, sustained release of energy.
Zinc, Selenium and Iron
“These minerals all work together in the body to help strengthen hair follicles,” says Keri Glassman, M.S., R.D., C.D.N., nutritionist and founder of Nutritious Life. “Shellfish, legumes and grass-fed beef provide Zinc. Selenium comes from brazil nuts, seafood and legumes, and found in organic grass fed butter. Iron can be obtained by consuming grass-fed red meat, dark leafy greens, and even dark chocolate.”
Vitamin B Complex
You have likely heard rave reviews about biotin-based supplements when it comes to helping hair (and nails!) grow. “Biotin, known as Vitamin B7, plays a role in stimulating cell re-growth and is known to reduce the symptoms for those struggling with hair loss. Biotin is most easily consumed in eggs,” notes Glassman. Schultz says he has seen amazing results from clients using the biotin-based supplement Viviscal over the course of several months.
But it is only one of the B vitamins (B6, B7, B9, and B12) that experts recommend for boosting hair growth. “Getting ample amounts of all the B vitamins is important because they work together to stimulate hair follicles,” says Glassman. “Research has shown that B vitamins aid in stronger, healthier hair.” It can be found in grains like quinoa and brown rice, produce like strawberries, green leafy vegetables, and proteins like chicken and salmon. Additionally, take a supplement such as HumanN B-complex, Glassman recommends.
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