There’s an overwhelming amount of nutrition information out there which is said to help fight hair loss. I’ve made an attempt to distill this all down after a large amount of research and in consultation with my doctor.
1 – Protein
Hair is made primarily from protein! So this nutrient is absolutely key! However, it’s important to get the right protein into your system. Eat lean protein, as opposed to fatty steaks, burgers, and cheeses. Because, while these foods carry plenty of protein, they also carry plenty of fat. And obesity is a killer for hair growth. Fatty foods increase testosterone levels, and this has been strongly linked to hair loss.
Animal sources – Fish and seafood are fantastic. Tuna, salmon, halibut, and many others are nearly one quarter protein. And also contain essential fish oils. Lean turkey, lean chicken and lean pork are also great. Yoghurt is good too. If you’re unable to live without cheese, try no fat mozzarella, which is teeming with protein. And similarly, if you hanker after the taste of beef, lean beef in moderation is a good source. Eggs are the undisputed king here with 20 different amino acids, in super digestible form. Don’t go overboard on the eggs though if you have cholesterol issues. But in terms of digestible high quality protein they’re a proper superfood! And should probably wear a cape! And underpants outside their red tights!
Plant sources: Beans are a great one here. Amongst the many different high protein beans are soy beans, kidney beans, fava beans, black beans, white beans, and mung beans. That’s a lot of beans to choose from! Watch out for flatulence though, if the stories are to be believed! Chickpeas and lentils are also great protein packers. Nuts and seeds are also fantastic sources. Almonds, peanuts (high in cholesterol, but a rich source of biotin), pumpkins, squash, pistachios, flaxseeds and sunflower seeds are all high in protein. And Soya products such as tofu and soy milk are other good vegetarian sources. There’s been a big surge in popularity of a lot more recent “superfoods” which are also protein enriched, amongst the main ones are quinoa, amaranth and kale. These are great for all sorts of nutrients, not just protein.
2 – Vitamin A
This vitamin is crucial in cell growth, including in the hair and scalp.
Animal sources – liver, eggs, and fish oils (particularly from salmon, herring, mackerel, anchovies, and sardines).
Plant sources – sweet potato, spinach, carrots, pumpkin pie.
This table below is taken directly from the National Institutes Of Health website – http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminA-HealthProfessional/
3 – Vitamin B (primarily B6, B12 and Folic Acid/Folates)
B vitamins are vital in the formation of haemoglobin, that carries oxygen around the body, including to the hair. Any cells that are starved of oxygen are in trouble, so it’s critical to make sure that your body is receiving enough of these vitamins. There’s a large crossover between B6, B12 and the protein rich foods listed above.
Animal sources: Our good friend liver, of Vitamin A fame, is also big for vitamin B. As well as tuna, salmon, chicken, clams, and turkey.
Plant sources: Chick peas, spinach, black-eyed peas (seriously!), breakfast cereals, rice, asparagus, spaghetti, brussels sprouts and potatoes.
Again to the National Institutes Of Health website we go!
4 – Vitamin C
Vitamin C is necessary for normal growth and development, but leaves the body quickly. It’s water soluble, so a consistent intake is required. It’s important in the creation of collagen, which holds tissue together. Tissue such as hair.
Vegetarians have the advantage over carnivores when it comes to vitamin C. Basically, fruit and veg is what you’re after here.
Fruit sources: Citrus fruits (such as oranges and grapefruits), cantaloupes, kiwi, mango, pineapple, papaya, strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, cranberries, watermelon. Amongst others. These are the richest sources.
Veg sources: Red peppers, green peppers, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, cabbage, turnips, sweet potatoes, white potatoes, tomatoes/tomato juice, squash, spinach. Again, amongst others. It’s not limited to solely these vegetables. These are the richest sources.
Check out the red pepper below!
5 – Zinc
Zinc is a mineral which is involved in tissue growth and repair. Both hair loss and dandruff are associated with zinc deficiency. It’s also important for cell reproduction, and it’s involved in the wellbeing of the glands attached to our hair follicles that secrete oil.
Animal sources: Seafood is the absolute king of zinc! Specifically oysters!
Who tower over every other source of zinc! Crab and lobster also kick ass. And then a few of the regulars, chicken, pork and beef (again, keep it lean), as well as yoghurt are also strong.
Plant sources: baked beans, cashews, chickpeas, oatmeal, almonds, and kidney beans.