Supplement solutions: what to eat for healthy hair
Pity your poor hair. It may be made up of the second fastest-growing cells in the body (after intestinal cells), but as a ‘non-essential tissue’, your body will never send nutrients its way if another part of the body is lacking. This means hair health is one of the first things to suffer when there’s even the slightest imbalance or deficiency in your diet. And if you’re eating a poor diet, ill, or pregnant, it can really show.
Changes to our diets – even ‘healthy’ ones, like experimenting as a veggie or cutting out dairy – can have a big impact on our hair while our stress levels or can also impede the absorption of certain nutrients and effect their efficacy in the body. And even when you’d get a gold star for your perfectly balanced plate, your hair’s ‘non-essential’ biological status means it’s the last thing to feel the effects.
Your hair is made from protein so it’s vital to that you eat enough of this ‘building block’ to nourish the body. Work in a source with every meal: lean meats, eggs, fish, seeds or nuts, and top up your levels of these following follicle-loving nutrients.
You’ve got: Dry, brittle hair that’s lost its shine
You need: Omega-3 fatty acids
Rich food sources are oily fish like mackerel or veggie alternatives like pumpkin seeds or avocados. We need all three essential fatty acids (EFA’s) in our diet: alpha linolenic acid (ALA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Because our bodies don’t produce it, we need to consume all our Omega-3 through food or supplements. And it’s important that you do: they improve blood flow to help get nutrients to the hair follicles more quickly, add sheen and elasticity to your locks, and can even prevent or reverse hair loss.Learn more about Omega-3 fatty acids
You’ve got: Hair that won’t grow past your shoulders
You need: Biotin
An essential, water-soluble B-vitamin sometimes called vitamin H or B7, biotin helps your hair grow longer and keeps it from becoming dry. When ingested, biotin reacts with cell enzymes and helps to produce amino acids, which are the building blocks of protein. Your hair is made of a protein called keratin, and biotin helps increase the elasticity of its cortex, which helps to prevent your ends from breaking off. Happy days. Rich sources are beans, egg yolks, bread, fish and lentils. So if you’re vegan, or on a low-carb diet, it’s a good idea to top up. Studies show you’ll get stronger nails too.
This powerful antioxidant helps repair and build healthy hair cells by battling against free radicals. It also helps to promote good circulation, to help the goodness from the food you eat get to those nutrient-starved locks more quickly. When you apply the vitamin straight to the scalp, it helps reduce inflammation and repair damage to the follicles – and healthy follicles means a healthy head of hair.
You’ve got: Thinning hair
You need: Iron
Blocked shower drain again? Hair loss can be a nightmare, and one of the most common causes is iron deficiency or anaemia. When we’re short on iron, our levels of red blood cells – which are crucial for healthy follicles – are lowered too. 40 per cent of UK women fall below the Recommend Nutritional Intake (RNI), which nutritionist Dr. Carrie Ruxton blames on women’s relatively low red meat intake. Plant sources like spinach have comparatively low absorption rates, so if you’re a vegetarian it’s essential to top up with a supplement. Combine your iron with a vitamin C – which is proven to speed up its absorption.
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