Did you know that hair health is all about eating food rich in protein, keratin, vitamins A and E, and biotin?
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Vitamin A forms sebum, a substance responsible for the natural oil in our hair. You can get it from eating sweet potatoes and carrots. Vitamin E is a natural moisturizer that reduces hair damage from UV rays in the sun. Sources include nuts. Biotin is a B vitamin that is soluble, and it overcomes brittle hair. Key sources are whole grains and eggs. Proteins, in their part, are important for promoting hair growth, with eggs being the ready mention.
The powerhouse for hair growth, however, is keratin. It is a natural protein that makes and grows the constituents of hair, nails and the outermost skin layer. Chicken feathers are 90% keratin. The keratin responsible for hair growth known as alpha-keratin is insoluble. This means that it is not easily dissolved in sweat or gland secretions. However, it is best to augment these levels to help in maximum hair growth by including sources such as fatty fish in your diet.
To find out more about the foods that contain these magical nutrients, read on! Here are some of the best foods for hair health.
Because keratin-based shampoos and other hair products come exclusively from animal extracts, it makes sense to eat one of these animals for direct benefits. Salmon happens to be one of the richest sources of keratin among fatty fish. Its omega-3 fatty acids nourish hair follicles for growth, protect against frizz and reduce hair loss. Here is a quick fact:
- With 4,504 mg of omega 3 fatty acids per serving, salmon is the highest source of this nutrient among fish.
Tip: eating salmon or sardines brings a glossy shine in your hair because Omega-3 fatty acids promote collagen production, a cause for the shine.
2. Bone broth
Bones contain high amounts of keratin, glycine and collagen. These compounds help bind hair follicles and strengthen them against breakage. Though studies are still ongoing, it is clear that taking soup prepared from connective tissues such as joints is good for keeping hair well-nourished. This is because bone joints harbor high amounts of protein, iron and soluble fats.
Tip: besides hair health, bone broth may have weight loss properties for it keeps appetite in check due to the lush protein which makes you feel satiated for long.
3. Greek Yogurt
The secret enzyme in Greek yogurt that promotes hair growth is Pantothenic acid (PA). This acid has featured in treating a type of baldness known as alopecia, though the mechanism of how it works is still unclear. What is clear is that Greek yogurt or strained yogurt contains high amounts of PA.
PA is actually Vitamin B5 and it is a common part of hair product ingredients. In Greek yogurt, this vitamin helps circulate blood to the scalp and combats the thinning of hair.
Tip: you can get the best of strained yogurt by including it in your breakfast with a serving of blueberries, especially since berries promote collagen production for your skin and hair.
Egg yolks are superb hair growth ingredients and what more, you can apply them directly on the locks. If you are not into the smell of egg yolk on your hair, then the alternative is to eat at least three eggs weekly. This is because these bird products are rich in amino acids that help in hair growth.
In every egg yolk you will find:
- 164.5 milligrams of sulfur. Sulfur is a natural constituent of human hair and its levels can get down when you don’t eat enough protein. Hence the choice for eggs to boost the supply.
Tip: eating eggs regularly will bring the shine in your hair because it is high in shine-promoting protein. The 26.5 grams of fat in each hundred grams of yolk helps keep hair soft.
5. Lentils, Kale and Spinach
Leafy greens like kale or spinach and legumes like lentils are must-haves for replenishing dwindling iron levels in hair. Iron is a major constituent of blood that circulates to various body parts to nourish hair. When you suffer anemia (low iron levels), blood supply to the hair follicles also falls. This leads to the thinning of hair and premature baldness.
The natural remedy is eating a diet rich in iron-high foods. Because not all people eat iron-rich red meat, here are plant-based alternatives:
- Spinach contains 2.71mg of iron.
- Kale has 0.86mg of iron or 6% of the daily value (dv)
- Besides iron, lentils also provide 31% protein content per cup.
Tip: Spinach-kale-lentils combination is a key way to fight hair brittleness.
6. Lean Chicken, Duck or Turkey
Chicken, ducks and turkeys have high protein that compensates for cases where hair stagnates in growth because of poor diet.
Unlike beef or mutton, poultry meat has relatively low fat, which is also a plus for heart health.
Tip: you can eat protein-rich chicken broth to nourish hair and prevent hair loss from protein deficiency.
7. Sweet potatoes
The orange-fleshed sweet potato is a superfood for not just its starch but its beta carotene. Beta carotene is essential for the conversion of Vitamin A, which in turn helps to form keratin.
As you already know, keratin is a natural protein found in bones and hair and needs replenishing every other while to promote hair growth. Hence, vitamin A-rich foods such as sweet potatoes come in handy.
The good thing about nuts is that you can eat them anywhere. They are great sources of Vitamin E, a nutrient that promotes healthy hair by blocking harmful UV rays of the sun from damaging your tresses.
Some of the best nuts to have for hair health include almonds. They have a whopping 28 grams, equivalent to 48% of your daily needs of your vitamin E needs. They also contain other nutrients that promote hair shine such as zinc and fatty acids.
Tip: Nuts not only help nourish the hair with their proteins and protect it against the sun, but also improve heart health as they contain monounsaturated fats.
9. Whole Grains
Although eggs (33% per serving) and lean beef (103% per serving) provide higher amounts of biotin, whole grains such as oats are healthier because of their low fat. Oatmeal has just 1% of the daily value of biotin but it is one of the best whole grains for battling brittle hair.
Experts recommend taking cereals that are fortified with iron to complement their biotin content.
Tip: whole grains with biotin and fortified iron supplements can prevent hair loss.