When we think about the appearance and health of our hair, we usually consider factors like chlorine, age, genetics, heat, and hair dye – but did you know that your diet plays just as large a role?
Eating the right foods for your hair can promote growth, thickness, and shine, reduce shedding, help you lose weight, and even stall greying.
Eating the wrong foods can make your hair thin and brittle. Foods like diet soda and greasy fries can actually contribute to hair loss. Keep reading to learn more about what to eat for healthier hair.
10 Foods for better hair
Nutrient deficiencies can have a seriously bad effect your hair. Incorporate the following foods into your diet to make sure your hair is looking its best.
A note for vegetarians: You can easily maintain hair health while being a vegetarian. Nearly all the foods on this list will fit into your diet.
A note for the health-conscious: No matter if you’re avoiding sugar, fat, or carbs, there are lots of options from the list below that will fit into your diet. As you will see later on, many of the foods you’re probably trying to avoid fall into the “what not to eat for healthy hair” category.
In the following list, you will find foods that promote growth, make hair grow faster, reduce shedding, and stave off greying:
1. Almonds/ almond butter: With healthy fats, protein, and vitamin E, almonds are one of the best foods for hair growth, shine, and thickness. A single tablespoon of almonds gives you 2/3 of your daily amount of vitamin E.
2. Tangerines: This tangy fruit is high in vitamin C, which is good for your hair and skin and helps your body absorb iron. Tangerines also have high levels of B12, which reduces hair loss, promotes growth, and even slows down the greying process.
3. Greek yogurt: There’s a reason why all the Greeks in the old paintings and statues have such nice hair! Greek yogurt is full of protein and pantothenic acid (AKA vitamin B5), which helps hair grow by increasing blood flow to your scalp.
4. Spinach: Iron deficiencies can lead to loss of hair. Make sure you have adequate amounts of iron by adding this leafy green to your sandwiches and salads. In addition to iron, spinach includes calcium, omega-3 acids, potassium, and magnesium – all of which promote shine and reduce shedding.
5. Cinnamon: This tasty spice is one of the best foods for healthy hair roots. Sprinkle powdered cinnamon on oatmeal, toast, or applesauce to help improve circulation to the scalp.
When I say cinnamon, I’m not talking about cinnamon dolce lattes from Starbucks!
6. Salmon (wild, not farmed): Did you know that inflammation can cause hair shedding? One way to reduce inflammation is by consuming omega-3’s. Cold-water fish like sardines, mackerel, and salmon are great sources of omega-3’s and they help keep your hair strong and shiny.
Female hair loss and male-pattern balding is associated with insulin resistance, and cold-water fish can also help your body process insulin more efficiently.
7. Guava: This uncommon fruit might not always be available, but take advantage of it if your store carries it. Vitamin C has been shown to promote hair growth, especially in women who are struggling with thin hair. One guava contains up to 5x as much vitamin C as an orange.
8. Eggs: This breakfast favorite is a great food for faster hair growth because it contains biotin – which I know from personal experience makes your hair and nails grow faster.
Not having enough biotin can contribute to loss of hair, so make sure you’re getting it! Biotin is also sold in pill form (more on vitamins below).
9. Barley: Barley is a great source of vitamin E, which can help reverse sun damage that may be contributing to your thinning hair.
10. Sweet potatoes: The beta carotene is orange foods like sweet potatoes, mangoes, and pumpkin helps protect against dullness and dryness by stimulating the glands in your scalp to produce sebum.
Click here to learn more about hair loss treatments for women.
Hair health vitamins
Whether you’re taking supplements or finding these vitamins in your diet, here’s a list of the best vitamins for healthy hair and faster growth:
1. Biotin: Sometimes called “vitamin H,” biotin increases your hair’s elasticity. This helps prevent dryness and breakage. Biotin also helps your body produce keratin, which is essential for healthy hair. Some studies suggest biotin can help slow down the greying process. Find it in:
- Brown rice
- Green peas
2. Vitamin A: This antioxidant promotes healthy hair and eyes; it also helps your scalp produce sebum, which keeps hair hydrated. Find it in:
- Cod liver oil
3. Vitamin E: This antioxidant promotes healthy skin and helps your body produce new hair. Find it in:
- Leafy greens
4. Pantothenic Acid (B5): Also called “B5,” this vitamin is great for reducing age-related hair loss and clearing the scalp of dead skin. Find it in:
- Whole grains
5. Inositol: This vitamin supports the health of cell membranes, and has been shown to reduce hair loss in men. Find it in:
- Whole grain breads
- Citrus fruits
Click here to learn more about common beauty mistakes that can contribute to hair loss.
5 Foods to avoid
The following list includes foods that cause hair loss and make hair dry and brittle:
1. Diet soda: Artificial sweeteners (especially aspartame) have been linked to hair loss.
2. Sugar: Did you know that sugar actually gets in the way of your body’s ability to absorb protein? Stay away from sugar as much as possible, and keep desserts to a minimum.
3. Starchy whites: Most “starchy whites” like cake, white bread, white pasta, and pastries contain high amounts of sugar. Avoid refined starches and choose whole wheat/whole grain instead.
4. Alcohol: Big surprise here, but alcohol is bad for your hair! Alcohol interrupts your body’s ability to absorb zinc, which is super important for hair health and growth. Alcohol can also make your hair brittle and dry.
5. Fast food: Greasy foods like burgers and fries can clog up follicles and contribute to loss of hair. They can also cause weight gain, greasy skin, and acne.
Click here to learn more about natural hair growth remedies.