5 key nutrients for healthy hair
The condition of your hair and scalp can be a good indication of your general health and wellbeing. Hair growth is impacted by age and genetics, while stress and hormonal factors have a big impact on your hair condition, thickness, strength and appearance. Over-exposure to chemicals from hair dyes, or heat from hair straighteners, will also damage hair. Here our nutritionists share the best foods and the key nutrients they provide to boost your hair health and appearance.
Best foods for healthy hair
Eating a healthy diet can provide essential nutrients for maintaining a healthy scalp and hair. Hair takes time to grow so it can take a while to notice the benefits, but the nutrients in your diet really can help.
10 best foods for healthy hair
These foods are the best sources of key nutrients that stimulate healthy hair and hair growth, which we explain below.
- Whole grains
- Sweet potatoes
- Brazil nuts
- Baked beans and other pulses
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5 key nutrients for healthy hair
While there are certain ingredients in specialist hair supplements to combat hair thinning, fuel hair growth and improve the appearance of your hair, your diet is always the best place to start for healthy hair.
Our 'Top 10 foods for healthy hair' are rich in the following essential nutrients that feed your hair follicles and fuel normal hair growth, so it's important to ensure you're gaining these in your diet and not building up any deficiencies.
Hair is made of protein so including protein foods in your diet is essential for maintaining healthy and strong hair. Inadequate protein in your diet is likely to lead to dry, brittle hair, so including protein foods at each meal will help your body make the most of it.
Meat, fish, eggs and dairy are great sources of protein, but there are also lots of plant protein sources - in particular soya and soya products, mycoprotein (sold as Quorn), lentils, beans, chickpeas, quinoa, buckwheat, seitan, nuts and seeds.
Biotin is a B Vitamin that helps the body make use of the energy from food. Inadequate Biotin can cause brittle hair and may lead to hair loss. A deficiency in Biotin is rare and only a relatively small amount is needed by your body, and bacteria found naturally in your bowel also make Biotin.
Biotin is found in a wide range of foods including wholegrains, egg yolks, fish, almonds and sweet potatoes, cauliflower, mushrooms and spinach. Biotin is also a key ingredient in Hair Saviour, formulated to fuel healthy, strong hair.
'Melanin' is a natural pigment which determines the colour of our hair. Copper is a mineral involved in the production of melanin, so gaining sufficient copper in our diet can help maintain the natural colour of our hair.
Copper is found in a variety of foods including shellfish, almonds, peanuts, wholegrain cereals, and dark chocolate.
Selenium is a powerful antioxidant that helps maintain healthy hair by keeping cells healthy, including your scalp. It's also important for our immune system and helping our bodies use iodine to support our thyroid function.
Brazil nuts are a particularly good source of Selenium but other sources include fish, meat, eggs, bread, cereals and nuts. Selenium is also a key ingredient in our award-winning Daily Multi-Vitamin for daily support for hair, skin and nails through to your energy, immunity and mental performance.
Zinc is an important mineral to help maintain hair condition, and a deficiency in Zinc can lead to brittle hair and hair loss. Zinc is involved in the metabolism of proteins, carbohydrates and fats and influences hair follicles and hair growth.
Really good food sources of Zinc include beef, shellfish, dairy foods, eggs, baked beans and other pulses, bread, wholegrain cereals, nuts and pumpkin seeds.
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Other nutrients for healthy hair
In addition to the 'Top 5', other vitamins and nutrients are important, which is why we always recommend a healthy, varied and balanced diet.
The hair follicle and roots of hair are fed by a nutrient-rich blood supply. Iron is essential for healthy blood flow, and a deficiency in iron can disrupt the blood supply to hair follicles and impact hair growth. Iron deficiency is a little known but common cause of hair loss. Learn more in 'Why is Iron so important, particularly for women?'.
Vitamin C helps the body absorb Iron from plant-foods containing that contain iron. Vitamin C also helps the body make collagen, a vital protein that helps strengthen hair. Discover why it's so important in 'Best foods for hair loss & thinning'. If you're taking an iron supplement, ensure it contains Vitamin C, or you're taking a separate Vitamin C supplement, because Vitamin C improves your body's absorption of iron by 10x.
The fat-soluble Vitamin A is needed to make 'sebum', an oily substance created by the sebaceous glands near the root of each strand of hair. Sebum provides a natural conditioner for a healthy scalp and a lack of sebum can lead to a dry and itchy scalp.
Vitamin E helps protect our body's cells from damage, so it can provide protection to our hair against the negative impact of strong sunlight, pollution, smoke and chemicals in many hair care products. Vitamin E may also help prevent scalp dryness.
Keeping well hydrated is also beneficial for your hair health. Drinking enough water to maintain hydration has many benefits, including increasing blood circulation. As hair receives nutrients through the blood supplied to the hair follicles, drinking the recommended six to eight glasses of water a day is a positive step for healthy hair. You can also consider topical treatments to help your hair and support growth, including VEGAMOUR’s GRO collection.
If you enjoyed reading this article, you may also enjoy 'How menopause affects skin and hair'.
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