7 Nutrition Tips for Fuller, Stronger, Healthier Hair
7 Nutrition Tips for Fuller, Stronger, Healthier Hair
From split ends and weak, limp strands to thinning and dryness: if your hair lacks lustre, what you eat can make a huge difference.
Certain supplements may also help. While the way you treat and style your hair can affect its condition, if you lack specific nutrients that could also be causing problems.
Granted, your age, certain medical conditions, hormone imbalance and genetics can all play a part too. But, if you're eating well and supplementing where appropriate, you can help control your overall health and encourage strong, healthy hair.
So if you want thicker, shinier locks, it's essential to eat a healthy, balanced diet, ensuring you're getting all the nourishment you need.
Of course, general lifestyle choices combine with a healthy diet to keep you in tip-top shape. Managing your stress levels, taking regular exercise and doing things that make you happy are equally as important.
Here are 7 nutritional tips for healthy, strong hair.
1) Up your biotin intake
If you are low in biotin, it can lead to thinning hair, brittle nails and lacklustre skin.
Biotin (otherwise known as vitamin H or B7) is a coenzyme that helps convert food into energy.
It also helps maintain a healthy liver and eyes and is essential for a well functioning cardiovascular, metabolic, digestive and nervous system.
When it comes to hair, biotin plays an essential role in the production of keratin, a key structural protein making up your hair, skin and nails.
Biotin is water-soluble, and we don’t make or store it for very long. If you eat a balanced, healthy diet, you should be getting enough, but if you want to up your levels, consume more biotin-rich foods.
You could also try taking a biotin supplement.
Biotin-rich foods include eggs, avocado, berries, cauliflower, organic grass-fed organ meats, nutritional and Brewer’s yeast, nuts and seeds, sweet potatoes, mushrooms and legumes.
2) Pack in antioxidants
Antioxidants help to reduce oxidative stress, which may play a role in the ageing of hair follicles.
While ageing is a complex process with many contributing factors, evidence also suggests that oxidative stress can directly impact hair colour and quality as we age.
One small study has also successfully treated alopecia with vitamin E supplementation after researchers had previously noted that alopecia patients had lower levels of the antioxidants vitamin E, selenium and betacarotene.
Another potent antioxidant, vitamin C, aids collagen production, which improves hair quality and strength, helps protect hair follicles from damage, and may also help to prevent hair thinning as you age.
Eat plenty of antioxidant-rich foods like lots of brightly coloured fruits and vegetables. Also, eat nuts, seeds, beans and a little bit of dark chocolate (70% or more cocoa beans).
3) Eat fatty fish or take fish oils
Fish oil may help to improve hair strand thickness and density.
Research on women with female pattern baldness supports evidence that including fish oils in your diet can potentially reduce hair loss and promote hair growth.
The effects are potentially even better if you combine fatty fish with antioxidant-rich foods.
The most direct source of the omega-3 fats EPA and DHA come directly from fatty fish, which you should eat twice to three times a week (sardines, mackerel, anchovies, salmon, herring).
Other foods that can provide you with omega-3 oils (though not as much EPA and DHA) are walnuts and other nuts, linseeds, hemp seeds, chia seeds, eggs and dark green leafy vegetables such as kale and spinach.
If you’d prefer to take a fish oil supplement, try WHC UnoCardio 1000, the world’s best-quality fish oil, as named by independent US laboratory Labdoor.
4) Eat zinc foods daily
Zinc is essential for healthy hair follicles and hair growth and repair.
Hair loss can be a sign of zinc deficiency. Some small studies have had success treating alopecia and temporary hair loss using zinc supplements.
You have to be careful when taking zinc supplements as it can cause low copper levels and other issues.
So, if you wish to supplement, only take the daily recommended amount (7mg for adult females and 9.5mg for adult males). Alternatively, seek advice from a nutritional therapist or naturopath.
The trick is to pack in zinc foods daily, as we don’t store it and need a constant supply.
Zinc-rich foods include oysters and other shellfish, red meat, dark chicken or turkey meat, chickpeas, lentils, beans, nuts and seeds, oatmeal and shiitake mushrooms.
If you’re not hydrating properly, it can dry out your hair. It can also dehydrate your scalp, which doesn’t provide the best growing conditions.
Aiming to drink two litres of water a day is a good benchmark, but needs differ from person to person. For tips on how to stay properly hydrated, click here.
6) Top-up daily on vitamin D3
Vitamin D helps make hair follicles which encourage healthy hair growth. Researchers have also established a link between female pattern hair loss and low vitamin D.
The most natural way to get your vitamin D is from the sun. If you live in the Northern hemisphere, get out in it as much as possible during the summer months. Show as much of your skin as possible to the sun without using sunscreen.
If enough of you is exposed, you can produce between 10,000 to 25,000 IU from the time you bare your skin until just before it turns pink. Then cover up and get in the shade.
The darker your skin tone, the more sun exposure you need. Remember to be sensible and don’t let yourself burn.
Sadly, stocking up in the summer doesn’t provide enough vitamin D all year round, so it’s essential to take a daily supplement as you can’t get enough from food.
Public Health England recommends children from the age of one year and adults should take 10 micrograms of vitamin D a day (400 IU) during autumn and winter.
According to the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), the safe upper limit for daily vitamin D supplementation in adults is 4,000 IU. However, the No-Observed Adverse Effect Level (NOAEL) is actually 10,000 IU.
If you’re worried your vitamin D levels are low, the NHS provide vitamin D testing packs.
7) Try taking O'Hisa
O’Hisa is a supplement formulated by award-winning fish oil manufacturer WHC.
It contains many ingredients that are helpful for the skin and hair including sea buckthorn, biotin, zinc and copper.
Sea buckthorn helps to remove excess oils from hair while strengthening its structure. It may even help to protect against hair loss or balding. Your skin can also benefit from its renewing, moisturising and anti-ageing properties.
The copper in O’Hisa, meanwhile, contributes to normal hair pigmentation, while the hair-boosting benefits of zinc and biotin have been mentioned above. Give it a go!
When it comes to having healthy hair, how you feed your body counts – and eating a balanced, varied diet focusing on natural, nourishing food with a diverse range of nutrients can make a massive difference to your hair quality.
The list of nutrients in this article isn’t exclusive. Other key ones not mentioned here include vitamins A and B12, iron and protein.
How you manage your health outside of your diet also matters. Lack of exercise and stress take a toll on your health, and consequently your hair. Aim to take regular exercise and find effective ways to manage stress.
If you have persistent hair issues, seek help from a health professional and get your iron and hormone levels checked, including your thyroid.
While they are not standard tests performed by your doctor, it may also be worth getting tested for vitamins B12 and D deficiency. You can buy a zinc tasting test to help determine if your zinc levels are low.
*If you have a chronic health condition and are taking prescribed medication, check with your doctor before making any dietary changes or taking supplements.
Written by Rebecca Rychlik, Nutritional Therapist and Homeopath. Follow Rebecca on Instagram, Facebook and Medium, @rebeccabitesback.
Water for Health Ltd began trading in 2007 with the goal of positively affecting the lives of many. We still retain that mission because we believe that proper hydration and nutrition can make a massive difference to people’s health and quality of life. Click here to find out more.