The foods to restoring thick hair growth are no further away than your grocery store shelves. Hair food consists of things like critical fatty acids, antioxidants, proteins, vitamins and minerals to remain thick and strong. Whether thinning hair or baldness is a result of hormone imbalance, medications, a thyroid condition or something else, the first step back to healthy hair is by committing to a nutritious diet. Don’t be fooled. The best sources of hair vitamins are from foods, not pills or capsules.
Eating right has had a dramatic effect on my health, and hair. Science widely accepts the direct relationship between diet and hair health. And the best thing? A proper diet is an affordable, powerful home remedy for hair growth completely within your control. Pick the foods below to add to your diet, stir in some knowledge and discipline, and get ready to reverse your thinning hair. Get your grocery list ready!
Table of Contents
- 1 The Best Fatty Acids for Hair Growth
- 2 Protein = Hair
- 3 Iron Clad for Hair Growth
- 4 Magnesium, Zinc, Copper
- 5 Selenium Stimulates the Hair
- 6 Vitamin C – No Surprise
- 7 B-Complex – Critical to Metabolic Processes, Including Hair
- 8 Beta Carotene – Important Antioxidant
- 9 Vitamin E is a Hair Growth Favorite
The Best Fatty Acids for Hair Growth
But not just any fatty acids. You want the best ones – long chain omega-3 fatty acids that include eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). These come strictly from marine sources like cold water fish (salmon, tuna mackerel, herring, sardines, etc.) or certain algae. Why marine sources? Because plant sources of fatty acids, while important, don’t convert as easily to DHA and EPA in your body. That means you don’t get as much of the beneficial fats. But then, why are DHA and EPA so important for thick hair growth? Because they contain more omega-3 fatty acids which help bring your body’s fatty acid ratio into balance.
Western diets, thanks to processed foods and commercially farmed meats, contain many times the amount of omega-6 fatty acids than is healthy. The result? Inflammation, the underlying contributing factor to a whole host of serious maladies common in industrialized societies like clogged arteries and heart attacks, diabetes, cancer and, yes, hair loss. By increasing the ratio of omega-3s to omega-6s, you reduce inflammation. Don’t like seafood? Find a high quality, cold-pressed/virgin cod liver oil supplement.
Protein = Hair
Hair is mainly made up of a protein called Keratin. A protein poor diet can lead to graying and thin hair. Again, for thick hair growth, the best sources of protein are natural. Don’t depend on processed sources of proteins for any favors. Examples of foods rich in protein include yogurt, cheese, chicken, pork and beef, lentils, fish, eggs, nuts and seeds.
Iron Clad for Hair Growth
Dark leafy greens, beans, lentils, blackstrap molasses, wholes grains, red meat, organ meats, lean meats like poultry, clams and oysters, and eggs are just a few examples of iron rich food sources. Iron is important to hair health because it is used to make ferritin, a protein that stores iron in the tissues. Hair follicles depend on this ferritin reserve to stay healthy and to grow. One of the first signs of an iron deficiency is hair loss. It is the most common reason for hair loss in women. If you are vegan and you are experiencing hair loss, be sure to talk to your doctor. You may be iron deficient. Plant sources of iron are not as easily absorbed and could result in a deficiency. You may need an iron supplement.
Magnesium, Zinc, Copper
All minerals are important to hair health, but these three stand out. Magnesium deficiency results in inflammation and hair loss, among other things. Zinc is also vital to hair health as a hormone regulator, but too much or too little can cause hair loss. I mention copper here because too much zinc can cause a deficiency in copper, again resulting in hair loss, which can be the case when people supplement with zinc. Dietary sources of zinc include leafy greens, celery, asparagus, cucumber, pumpkin seeds, brazil nuts, eggs, pecans. Copper can be found in cashews, sesame seeds, Shitake mushrooms, sunflower seeds, lentils and walnuts, to name a few examples. Magnesium rich food examples include dark chocolate, nuts, dark leafy greens, seeds, fish, beans, whole grains, yogurt, bananas, dried fruit, and avocados.
Selenium Stimulates the Hair
Selenium is a trace element important for maintaining a healthy body and metabolism. Its presence ensures the proper functioning of the thyroid, reproduction system, DNA replication, and the removal of free radicals. So, it’s no surprise that a trace element with such far reaching effects also stimulates hair follicles to grow. Foods rich in Selenium include Brazil nuts (although these are the best source of Selenium, beware they also contain a huge amount of omega-6 fatty acids), Shiitake mushrooms, white button mushrooms, chicken, turkey, tuna, beef. Lima and Pinto beans, brown rice (but beware of arsenic), seeds, broccoli, cabbage and spinach.
Vitamin C – No Surprise
Vitamin C is widely recognized as the “beauty vitamin” due to its central role in forming collagen. Collagen makes you look younger by improving the volume, firmness and complexion of your skin. The benefits of collagen extend to hair follicles which depend on collagen for growth and strength. Vitamin C also helps the body to absorb iron, another key hair element. The importance of Vitamin C to overall health and disease prevention cannot be understated. Choose colorful, fresh fruits and vegetables for your daily dose of this essential vitamin. Citrus, strawberries, bell peppers, kiwi fruit, papaya, pineapple, watermelon, dark leafy greens, broccoli, berries, peas, and tomatoes are just a few.
B-Complex – Critical to Metabolic Processes, Including Hair
This group consists of thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, biotic, vitamin B6, vitamin B12 and folate. This constellation of vitamins is key to all metabolic processes and by extension, hair. The University of Maryland Medical Center names B complex vitamins as essential for healthy skin and thick hair growth. Similarly, studies from the nineties determined this important vitamin group was essential for keeping hair strong and nourished. Many dietitians insist vitamin B is integral to hair health as well. And experts agree a diet comprised of vitamins A, D, E, K, C and B-Complex are vital to thick hair growth.
Breaking Down the Bs
Get your B-Complex fix from the following list of foods like:
- B1 (Thiamine) – Beef, liver, nuts, peas, pork, oranges, beans, and eggs. Often foods are fortified with Thiamine such as cereals, rice, flour, pastas and breads.
- B2 (Riboflavin) – Some of the foods with the most B2 include cheese, beef liver, lamb, oily fish and seafoods such as squid, milk, natural yogurt, mushrooms, spinach, almonds and sun-dried tomatoes.
- B3 (Niacin) – Examples include pork, liver, beef, peanut butter (peanut oil), mushrooms, peas, sunflower seeds, avocado, fish such as cooked yellowfin Tuna, and chicken.
- B5 (Pantothenic Acid) – Eggs, organ meats, broccoli, whole grain foods, salmon, tomatoes, poultry, sweet potatoes, sunflower seeds, cheese, avocados, lean pork, and oily fish.
- B6 (Pyridoxine) – Meats, organ meats, poultry, fish, nuts and seeds, lentils, carrots, bananas, avocado, oatmeal, wheat bran, bran cereal, refried beans, chickpeas, sweet potatoes, and potatoes, spinach, tomatoes and cauliflower are a few great choices.
- B7 (Biotin) – Frequently cited as integral to hair health and growth, find this vitamin in eggs and other dairy products, pecans, almonds, nuts in general, legumes, fish, milk, meats, enriched whole grains, and most fresh fruits and vegetables.
- B9 (Folic Acid) – Avocado, citrus fruits, nuts and seeds, beets, dark green leafy vegetables (spinach, broccoli, collard, okra, asparagus, etc.), beans, peas, lentils, celery, squash and carrots are a few examples of rich sources of folic acid.
- B12 (Cobalamin) – Milk and dairy products, eggs, meats, fish (mackerel, sardines, and salmon have a lot), poultry, fortified breakfast cereals, liver, sardines, and red meats are great examples.
Beta Carotene – Important Antioxidant
Not enough of this antioxidant and your hair will turn dull and dry. Yellow, orange and green leafy fruits and vegetables like carrots, bell peppers, dried apricots, spinach, lettuce, cantaloupe, broccoli, sweet potatoes, tomatoes and winter squash are a few rich sources of beta carotene. Your body converts these into vitamin A, nourishing your hair and glands in the scalp.
Vitamin E is a Hair Growth Favorite
It’s no secret why countless skin and hair products contain vitamin E as a main ingredient. Its antioxidant abilities repair and build tissues, repair damaged hair follicles, reduce inflammation. It even induces better circulation to the scalp by repairing and stimulating capillary growth. Examples of foods rich in vitamin E include almonds, fruits, squash, sunflower seed, spices, dark leafy greens, shellfish, avocados, fish, and olive oil.
A balanced diet consisting of fresh foods from each of these nutrient categories will put you on the fast track to natural thick hair growth. Resolve to start today!