It is true that proper hair care is of immense importance when it comes to growing long and healthy hair. However, it is equally true that hair care alone cannot ensure the growth of healthy hair, if the diet is deficient in vital nutrients. A healthy diet is the key to healthy hair and skin. The condition of the hair and skin simply reflects the condition of our health. So, by including some healthy foods in our diet, we can improve our health and promote the growth of healthy hair.
Essential Nutrients for Hair
Hair is basically a dead protein filament, and hence protein is one of the most important nutrients for hair. Next to protein, hair needs a number of minerals and vitamins to grow properly. Among minerals, iron, zinc, and copper are the most crucial minerals for hair. Iron is responsible for supplying oxygen to the hair follicles, while zinc is crucial for preventing excessive hair loss.
Copper on the other hand, is required to maintain and improve the color of hair, and its deficiency can manifest in premature graying. Apart from these, calcium, iodine, magnesium, phosphorus, and silica are also essential for the growth of healthy hair. As far as the vitamins are concerned, vitamin A, B vitamins (especially biotin, vitamin B6, vitamin B5, Vitamin B3, and vitamin B12), vitamin C, and vitamin E are the most important vitamins for growing healthy and lustrous tresses.
Foods for Healthy Hair
A diet should be balanced, and it should provide adequate amounts of all the vital nutrients to maintain the health of your hair and skin. Ideally, a diet should include the following foods to promote the growth of hair, and avoid some common problems like excessive hair fall, dryness, and premature graying.
Whole Grains, Beans, and Pulses
The importance of protein for hair has already been mentioned in this article. This vital nutrient can be found in a large number of protein-rich foods, such as whole grains, legumes, beans, lentils, pulses, and soy products like tofu and soy milk. Soy protein has been found to be especially important for stimulating hair growth. These foods are not only rich in proteins, but they also contain the essential B vitamins.
Poultry, Red Meat, and Fish
Apart from whole grains, some other protein-rich foods are, poultry, eggs, meat, and fish. Eggs are one of the most important sources of protein and B vitamins. Chicken, turkey, organ meat, red meat, and fish like salmon are great for growing long and shiny hair, as they are rich in protein, iron, and B vitamins.
Low-fat Dairy Products
Low-fat dairy products, especially yogurt can have immense benefits for hair. Other dairy products that can be included in your diet are, skimmed milk and cottage cheese. Dairy products are not only a good source of protein, but they also contain minerals like calcium.
Vegetables and Fruits
Vegetables, especially the dark green leafy vegetables are an important component of a balanced diet. So, your diet should include vegetables like carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, spinach, potatoes, Swiss chard, sweet potatoes, cabbage, bean sprouts, Brussels sprouts, onion, lettuce, and cucumbers. Among fruits, watermelon, papaya, citrus fruits, oranges, amla or Indian gooseberry, avocados, apricots, berries including strawberries and blueberries, and cherries can prove helpful in ensuring the healthy growth of hair.
Dried Fruits and Nuts
Nuts like cashews, almonds, walnuts, Brazil nuts, and pecans are great for growing shiny and healthy hair. Along with protein, nuts contain omega-3 essential fatty acids, and minerals like zinc, copper, and selenium, which are essential for the health of the scalp and hair. In addition to nuts, dried fruits like raisins, prunes, and dates are also important, as they contain the mineral iron. A deficiency of iron can cause excessive hair loss.
Along with these, olive oil, seeds like sunflower seeds, flaxseed, and pumpkin seeds, and seafood are also considered good for promoting hair growth. Along with following a healthy and balanced diet, it is equally important to drink plenty of water throughout the day, manage the level of stress, get adequate sleep at night, and avoid the excessive consumption of processed foods and foods rich in harmful fats, to grow long and healthy tresses.