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Foods For Healthier, Thicker Hair

The foods people eat regularly affect the hair growth cycle and our hair's overall quality. Specific proteins, vitamins, fats, and minerals are crucial for healthy hair. Nutritionists and dermatologists confirm that certain nutritional deficiencies lead to dry, dull, and straggly hair. In some cases, improper diet can lead to hair loss and thinning. A varied, nutritious diet can help reverse these symptoms once the deficiency is restored. A balanced nutritional regimen also significantly affects nail and skin health.

How does the hair cycle work?

Our hair continually goes through cycles: growth, rest, and shedding. You have about 100,000 individual hairs on your head at any moment, and on average, each hair grows for nearly 1,000 days before entering a resting period before they are shed.

There are four main stages in the cycle of hair growth:

  • Anagen phase (growing stage)
  • Catagen phase (transitional stage)
  • Telogen phase (resting stage)
  • Exogen phase (shedding stage)

During this cycle, the hair grows at approximately one-half-inch per month, though several external factors can influence this.

We have no control over factors like age, sex, and genetics. But nutrition is one controllable element that can make a huge difference in your hair's health.

What is the anatomy of hair?

Let's look at your hair's basic anatomy to understand better what nutrients are needed for optimal hair growth. Hair primarily comprises a complex protein called keratin, also found in your fingernails and skin.

Each hair strand comprises the hair follicle and the hair shaft. The follicle is the portion of hair beneath the skin where new growth happens.

This follicle base is called the bulb and comprises stem cells that produce the shaft. The bulb is nourished by blood vessels in the scalp that supply oxygen and nutrient-rich blood to support hair growth and health. Since your hair is primarily composed of protein, it makes sense that protein, vitamins, and minerals are essential for strong hair.

Foods for healthier, thicker hair

Since diet plays such a massive part in keeping hair luscious and strong, it's essential to prioritize your food choices and nutritional lifestyle. Eating a diet rich in vitamins and minerals that support healthy hair is crucial to achieving thicker tresses. Here are some foods you can start incorporating into your daily meals.

Eggs

The most common nutritional deficiencies associated with hair thinning and loss include low iron, vitamin D, and biotin levels. Eggs are an excellent, natural source of these nutrients, especially B vitamins. They also have two carotenoids, lutein and zeaxanthin, which play a significant role in cellular health, particularly skin, hair, and eyes.

Scrambled eggs, hard-boiled eggs, or egg sandwiches are great ways to incorporate them into your daily rotation. You can even add hard-boiled eggs to your lunch salad or on top of a turkey burger.

Salmon

Fish like salmon, mackerel, and tuna are rich in omega-3 fatty acids and protein sources. These fan-favorite fish can help keep your hair strands strong and reduce potential hair loss, inducing inflammation around the scalp.

Salmon is more than just a delectable treat; it's a powerhouse of essential nutrients that can do wonders for your hair. Rich in omega-3 fatty acids, incorporating this fish into your diet can potentially increase hair density and reduce the shedding phase known as telogen. Moreover, these fatty acids help nourish the hair follicles, promoting shinier and healthier locks. If salmon isn't to your taste, other fish like mackerel, tuna, and herring are equally beneficial. For an exciting twist, try sardine toast made by mashing sardines with olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and red pepper flakes and spreading it over whole-grain toast.

Nuts

Nuts, often considered nature's snack, have many health benefits. Specifically, for hair, skin, and nails, they provide essential nutrients due to their healthy fats. Almonds, cashews, and walnuts are packed with vitamins and zinc. Not getting enough of these nutrients can result in hair thinning. Among the assortment, pistachios stand out as they are rich in biotin, a vitamin essential for robust hair, and antioxidants that protect against oxidative stress. They can be added to pesto or used as a crunchy coating for fish fillets.

Chock-full of biotin, one serving of almonds daily can help stimulate new follicle growth and help thicken hair. Almonds are also a good source of healthy fats, vitamin E, and magnesium. You can enjoy almonds alone, on top of yogurt, or mixed with dried fruit.

Legumes

The connection between protein and hair health is significant. Our hair shaft mainly comprises a protein named keratin. Hence, having a protein-rich diet is pivotal. Legumes like beans, chickpeas, peanuts, soybeans, and lentils are excellent protein sources and other hair-nourishing nutrients such as zinc, iron, biotin, and folate. These nutrients not only promote hair growth but also protect against premature greying. While these are plant-based sources, animal-based proteins, like chicken breast, can also be included for similar benefits.

Spinach

Dark leafy greens, especially spinach, are a treasure trove of nutrients. Vitamin A, abundant in spinach, is crucial for hair growth. However, it's essential to note that excessive intake can be counterproductive and lead to hair loss. Hence, getting vitamin A from food rather than supplements is safer. Moreover, spinach also provides iron, which plays a role in combating female pattern hair loss. Studies have indicated that those with hair loss issues often have deficient iron levels.

Avocados

These creamy fruits are not just for your toast; they're packed with hair-loving nutrients. One of the standout elements in avocados is Vitamin E. This antioxidant ensures your hair gets all the nourishment it needs. Consuming an avocado can fulfill a significant portion of your daily vitamin E requirement. Research has shown a positive impact of vitamin E on individuals experiencing hair loss, which could be attributed to its antioxidative properties.

Seeds

Seeds are tiny but mighty. Whether it's flaxseeds, chia, sunflower, or pumpkin seeds, each contains nutrients vital for hair health, such as vitamin E, zinc, and selenium. Additionally, flaxseeds and chia seeds offer much-needed omega-3 fatty acids. Some studies suggest that pumpkin seed oil can promote hair growth when applied topically, though more research is needed.

Yogurt

Yogurt is a multifaceted ingredient, offering both taste and nutrition. Rich in protein, probiotics, and various other nutrients, it's no wonder it's used in numerous DIY hair masks. Consuming yogurt has shown noticeable improvements in hair texture and sheen. Additionally, yogurt contains vitamin B5, which can stimulate hair follicle growth, ensuring thick and vibrant hair.

Peppers

Both sweet and spicy peppers have their unique set of benefits. Rich in vitamin C, they aid in iron absorption, which is crucial for those battling hair loss due to iron deficiency. The antioxidant properties of peppers also play a role in reducing oxidative stress, a known cause of hair loss. Additionally, they offer a good amount of vitamin A. For those who prefer some heat, chili peppers contain capsaicin, which has shown promise in promoting hair growth.

Cruciferous Vegetables

These vegetables, which include the likes of broccoli and Brussels sprouts, come loaded with hair-boosting nutrients. From vitamins A and C to folic acid and biotin, they offer a holistic nutrient profile that promotes healthy hair growth and prevents premature greying.

Collagen

Collagen, particularly fish-derived collagen peptides, is increasingly recognized for its benefits in hair health. MDhair Marine Collagen, rich in Hydrolyzed Marine Collagen, provides types I and III collagen, essential for new collagen production in the body. This directly aids in strengthening and promoting hair growth, which is crucial for those experiencing hair loss. The supplement also includes Hyaluronic Acid, enhancing hair hydration and elasticity, key factors in maintaining hair strength and preventing breakage. Vitamin C in the formula also supports new collagen synthesis, vital for hair, skin, and nail health. This combination of ingredients in a sugar-free, sulfate-free, and non-GMO supplement makes MDhair Marine Collagen a beneficial choice for improving hair, skin, and nail health while being convenient to incorporate into daily routines due to its easy solubility in beverages.

woman long healthy hair eats berries

Dark berries

Berries like strawberries, blueberries, and blackberries provide a healthy dose of antioxidants to protect the hair follicles, and vitamin C helps support collagen production and scalp circulation. Berries also aid in absorbing iron, an essential mineral in the body. Eating berries regularly can make healthier hair less prone to breakage and split ends.

Sweet potatoes

Sweet potatoes can help restore shine and moisture to your locks. They are loaded with beta carotene, an antioxidant converted to vitamin A by the body when consumed. Vitamin A has been shown to protect against dull, dry hair and encourage the scalp's glands to produce sebum (oil) to keep the hair moisturized.

Baked sweet potatoes can be a delicious dinner side, topped with butter and a bit of brown sugar. You can also cut them and bake them to make sweet potato fries!

Kelp

Kelp promotes hair growth due to its high iodine levels, which are thought to aid in healthy thyroid function that can play a part in hair thinning. Sea kelp can also strengthen hair and prevent damage, thanks to its rich vitamin and mineral content. Iron, folate, magnesium, zinc, and l-lysine in kelp effectively boost hair fullness and health. Kelp is an excellent addition to your stew or favorite noodle dish. It can also be dried out and enjoyed as a crunchy snack.

FAQs

Q. What makes eggs a recommended choice for promoting hair health?
A. Eggs are a natural source of vital nutrients like iron, vitamin D, biotin, and B vitamins. The carotenoids, lutein, and zeaxanthin present in eggs play a pivotal role in promoting the health of skin, hair, and eyes. Incorporating eggs in various forms, from scrambled to hard-boiled, can enhance hair thickness and strength.

Q. Why is salmon often touted as a superfood for hair?
A. Salmon, mackerel, and tuna are abundant in omega-3 fatty acids and protein, strengthening hair strands and reducing inflammation around the scalp. Regular consumption of salmon can increase hair density, reduce shedding, and provide shinier and healthier locks.

Q. How do nuts contribute to hair health?
A. Nuts like almonds, cashews, and walnuts offer essential vitamins, zinc, and healthy fats. A particular highlight is pistachios, rich in biotin, crucial for robust hair, and antioxidants. Consuming almonds can stimulate follicle growth and help in hair thickening.

Q. What's the significance of legumes in achieving thick hair?
A. Legumes, including beans, chickpeas, and lentils, provide a rich source of protein, zinc, iron, biotin, and folate. These nutrients not only accelerate hair growth but also prevent premature greying. Both plant-based and animal-based proteins can offer these benefits.

Q. How does spinach contribute to hair vitality?
A. Spinach is loaded with nutrients like vitamin A, essential for hair growth. Additionally, its iron content can combat female pattern hair loss. Consuming spinach regularly can aid those with hair-thinning issues related to iron deficiency.

Q. What makes avocados a go-to fruit for hair health?
A. Avocados are laden with Vitamin E, an antioxidant essential for nourishing hair. Consuming avocados can satisfy a significant portion of daily vitamin E needs and has shown positive impacts on those experiencing hair loss.

Q. Are seeds beneficial for hair?
A. Absolutely! Flaxseeds, chia, or pumpkin seeds are replete with vital hair nutrients like vitamin E, zinc, and selenium. Additionally, they provide omega-3 fatty acids that promote hair health.

Q. How does yogurt enhance hair texture?
A. Yogurt, with its rich content of protein, probiotics, and nutrients, offers improved hair texture and sheen. Moreover, the vitamin B5 in yogurt can stimulate hair follicle growth, resulting in thicker hair.

Q. Can peppers boost hair health?
A. sweet or spicy peppers are rich in vitamins like vitamin C, which aids in iron absorption. Their antioxidant properties help reduce oxidative stress, a known contributor to hair loss.

Q. What benefits do cruciferous vegetables offer for hair?
A. Cruciferous vegetables, including broccoli and Brussels sprouts, are packed with vitamins A and C, folic acid, and biotin. These nutrients collectively promote healthy hair growth and prevent premature greying.

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