Is your hair dry, brittle, and falling with every stroke of a brush? Chances are your diet is in dire need of a makeover.
While other factors, like excessive heating tools and aging, can impact the health of your hair, medical experts say the foods you eat on a daily basis play a huge role in how drab or fab your mane really is.
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“Patients that don’t have a well-balanced diet suffer from thin hair and loss,” explains Dr. Gary Goldenberg, medical director of the dermatology faculty practice at the Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York. “I recommend my patients make sure their diet is a mix of whole wheat grains, protein, and healthy fats.”
“I also recommend the vitamin biotin for those with weak hair to improve quality and strength,” he adds. “A dose of 2500-5000 micrograms per day is usually sufficient.”
While there are no miracle foods that can instantlt transform your hair into Rapunzel-like tresses, many believe there are certain foods that can help you achieve softer, longer hair faster. Drop the comb and check out their picks below.
"Carrots have a high concentration of vitamin A, which helps promote hair and scalp health,” explains Lori Shemek, health coach and author of “Fire-Up Your Fat Burn.” “A deficiency in this vitamin can lead to hair loss as well. Vitamin A plays a role in sebum production, much like spinach, and a diet rich in carrots can lead to faster hair growth through healthy sebum production.” Enjoy these as a tasty low-calorie snack whenever you need something to munch on.
Medical experts agree that the key to maintaining hair growth is having a balanced diet, and a lack of potassium could lead to several health risks, as well as hair loss. Fortunately, bananas are naturally rich in potassium and can easily satisfy that sweet tooth. Alexis Antonellis, a stylist at the New York City-based Oscar Blandi Salon, insists it’s one of her best tips for clients desiring amazing tresses. “Eat plenty of bananas!” says Antonellis. “I’ve been eating them for as long as I can remember.”
This may be a hard one to swallow, but liver features a key ingredient that’s crucial for growth. “As untasty as it sounds, liver may be the food of choice when it comes to hair improvement,” says Dr. Julia Tzu, a clinical assistant professor of dermatology at New York University. “Liver contains the highest concentration of biotin, a B complex vitamin that helps with hair and nail growth.” If liver doesn’t sound appetizing enough, consider obtaining biotin supplements with the approval of your dermatologist.
Breakfast has never tasted so good. “Eggs are a great food for healthy hair,” says Dr. Elizabeth Tanzi, co-director of the Washington Institute of Dermatologic Laser Surgery in Washington, D.C. “They are rich in vitamin B5 and B12 to stimulate hair growth, as well as biotin, which thickens the hair shaft.”
There’s a reason why kale is considered a "super food." Aside from keeping you fuller longer to promote weight loss, it also gives major love to your hair. “Kale and other dark green leafy veggies provide the iron that is essential to keep hair growing thick and healthy,” says Dr. Jessica Krant, an assistant clinical professor of dermatology at SUNY Downstate Medical Center. “Signs of low iron include exaggerated loss of hair at the temples, which stretches back further than typical hairlines from normal aging.”
"Walnuts have omega-3 fatty acids, and these oils contribute to the elasticity of your hair, as well as growth,” explains Shemek. “If you don’t have enough oils in the body, you will experience breakage and brittle hair.” Enjoy a handful of raw walnuts a day as a snack or add as topping to Greek yogurt for some much-needed crunch.
Eating foods with iron prevents hair loss, but according to San Diego-based dermatologist Dr. Susan Stuart, it’s just as important to look out for those that also help the body absorb this mineral for maximum results. “Fruits and vegetables in general are rich in vitamin C, which assists the body in absorption of iron, too,” says Stuart. Shake things up with strawberries, which can have more vitamin C than oranges and fewer calories.
While Tzu admits there are no rigorous studies supporting the use of olive oil directly on hair for smoother locks, it’s a technique she personally practices. “There are numerous health benefits to eating olive oil because of the level of vitamins and antioxidants it contains, but it’s also great for applying directly to the hair to seal in moisture content and improve shine, especially at the distal hair ends,” she says. Add olive oil directly to the hair, avoiding the skin, and leave overnight with a shower cap. Don’t forget to wash it out in the morning.
This seafood may contain a high amount of cholesterol, but if savored in moderation, it can deliver some much-needed benefits to your hair. “Oysters have zinc, which is an often overlooked hair nutrient that can lead to severe loss if neglected,” says Krant. “Oysters also provide selenium, another important hair building block.” It’s advised to eat oysters once or twice a month to prevent cholesterol overload.
Not a fan of oysters? Enjoy mouthwatering grilled salmon instead, which all medical experts say it’s one of the best foods for achieving healthier hair naturally. “Salmon is a fantastic hair food because it’s loaded with protein, fish oil, and selenium to strengthen and encourage hair growth,” says Tanzi. Not only can salmon be prepared in a variety of ways, but it’s also a noteworthy dinner option if you’re counting calories. When in doubt, choose salmon.