Do you have dry, brittle hair that's growing so slow it doesn’t actually seem like it's growing at all, and you’ve tried everything! Your bathroom shelf is full of oils and treatments that suggest hair growth and repair, but still nothing has ‘worked’. While there are some great products for styling, moisturizing, taming frizz, and other topical remedies, there are few things we can apply to our hair that will make it grow faster. Let’s turn inwards and talk about what we can eat for hair growth and health. It’s time to fuel up on these hair loving foods to encourage natural hair growth that maximize the actual health of the hair before it even leaves our bodies.
Our hair needs nourishment before it leaves the scalp. Just under the surface of the scalp’s skin each individual hair sits in a hair follicle. When blood flow and oxygen make their way to the scalp, they carry the nutrients required for optimal health. Before we can start supplementing with additional vitamins, minerals, and even products, we must attain a healthy base diet containing a wide variety of whole foods. Shortage of any one (or multiple) nutrients can lead to different symptoms including a curb of hair growth or simply the growth of dull, weak hair.
Do Hair Supplements work?
Supplements can be helpful if you are deficient in specific vitamins or nutrients that could be causing hair loss, but we recommend seeing a professional for this. We asked a Naturopathic Doctor for her advice, and you can see that here! It’s best to have this looked into before over supplementing with vitamins and minerals you may not need.
What we do know is that the body requires essential nutrients that we can get from food. When our digestive system breaks down these food pieces into their specific nutrient profiles, our bodies absorb the vitamins and minerals and other macronutrients and send them to where they are needed, be it organs like the liver and skin, blood, bones, and our hair and nails. The body has a lot of duties to perform, and insufficient storage of protein, fats, carbohydrates, antioxidants, and other nutrients will prevent the work from getting done. This could result in a weak immune system, sore joints and slow muscle recovery, hormone imbalances, and amongst so many other symptoms and conditions, weak, brittle, and possibly stunted hair growth.
Listed below are some foods that are extra rich in hair loving nutrients, these foods should be consumed regularly, long term, on top of a base diet of whole foods. We recommend this blog to learn a little bit more about the different nutrient groups and how to find balance with meals. If you have any known intolerances of the mentioned goods then do avoid them.
Here are our top hair loving foods that encourage the growth of your best hair:
Salmon, mackerel and herring are a few of the best fish you can eat for hair growth. They contain essential omega-3 fatty acids, protein and selenium which are all required for good health of our hair.
Beef Bone Broth
Beef bone broth contains type I and III collagen which is said to be more beneficial to our hair, skin and nails, versus chicken broth that is known for type II collagen geared more towards joint health. The collagen and gelatin proteins from beef bone show more bioavailability compared to powders and supplements.
It's also good to reach for bone-in meats when grocery shopping because you're getting a lot of those same nutrients, as opposed the more expensive cuts like chicken breasts which aren't as nutrient rich.
Nuts and Seeds
Apart from being naturally rich in fats and protein and many antioxidants, all nuts and seeds contain many of the nutrients that will help to grow healthy hair. We’ve listed a few of our favorites but you should aim to get as many of the different nuts and seeds out there.
- Brazil nuts are specifically rich in selenium which is needed to strengthen our hair, skin, and nails.
- Walnuts and almonds are better known for their vitamin E component, an antioxidant necessary for healthy hair and skin.
- Cashews are an excellent source of zinc which is needed to prevent hair loss and strengthen the hair follicle.
Probably the healthiest food out there. They contain so many important vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients like chlorophyll to prevent the graying process. We aim to get at least one, if not more, servings of greens a day (smoothie season is coming, so jam them in there). Here are a couple of different green vegetables that help to strengthen the hair from the root increasing healthy growth:
- Spinach is rich in iron, folate, vitamin A and C
- Arugula for Vitamin A, K and C, calcium, iron, and folate
- Collards is an amazing source of Vitamin A, C and K, B6, iron and magnesium
- Lettuce is particularly high in Vitamin A
A great source of biotin and one of the best sources of complete protein, providing all the essential amino acids for the body to benefit from.
Another good source for biotin, as well as B6, magnesium and vitamin C. The inner peel actually contains a ton of nutrients too! Be sure to scrape some into your next smoothie.
Pumpkin, butternut squash, sweet potatoes and other foods from the squash family are an amazing source of vitamin A, C and K!
This is one of the most important food groups for healthy hair. Rich in B vitamins, fibre as well as minerals zinc, copper, iron and magnesium. Brown rice, oats and whole wheat are all good sources of whole grains.
A terrific source of plant-based protein. Containing both soluble and insoluble fibre, beans and lentils contain good amounts of magnesium, iron, folate, zinc, and copper as well vitamins B1, B2 and K.
Sourdough bread, sauerkraut, kimchi, kefir, yogurt, tempeh, and miso are all awesome sources of fermented foods. We've added this section in because eating fermented foods will encourage optimal gut health, leading to better digestion and absorption of the foods and nutrients listed above, really making the most of out our efforts in regards to healthy eating.
The Bottom Line
There are tons of foods that contain amazing vitamins and minerals to help with all things health. This is just a short list of foods that are extra rich in specific nutrients that encourage healthy hair growth. Add these foods to your current grocery list and work them into different recipes that you already eat. Hair growth can be quick for some people, and take longer for others. Everyone is different! Be patient and stick with it. Check out this post for tips on how to treat your hair externally for optimum health, and this post if you are experiencing hair loss. A commitment to all these practices will bring long lasting results, and it’s okay if it takes time to get there!