According to the American Hair Loss Association, most men will suffer some amount of hair loss by the age of 35. By the age of 50, 85% of men can expect to kiss at least some of their locks goodbye. Women aren’t safe from hair loss, either. Some statistics state that up to 40% of women will see some amount of hair thinning by the age of 40. While some cases of hair loss cannot be reversed due to genetics or illness, some suffers can affect their condition with diet. Certain foods can improve the look and feel of hair, prevent hair loss, or even help grow new hair.
Here are some foods for healthy hair:
1) Foods rich in protein
Protein is the building-blocks of hair, so if you’re watching your precious locks circle the drain during your morning shower, your diet might be protein-deficient.
Eat This: Meat contains lots of protein, of course. But if you’re a vegetarian or simply don’t like to eat a meat-heavy diet, try other foods rich in protein, like eggs, beans, and legumes. Nuts and seeds like pistachios and pumpkin seeds are high in protein, as are dairy foods like cheese and yogurt.
2) Foods rich in zinc
Sudden hair loss is one of the surest signs of a zinc deficiency. Why? Because zinc is present in hair, but if other vital organs are missing the important mineral, the body will draw it out of hair, which will cause hair to stop growing or fall out completely. Keeping your diet high in zinc will not only help your hair, but boost your immune system.
Eat This: While you can take zinc in a supplement form, the human body is designed to draw nutrients primarily from food. Foods high in zinc are oysters, poultry, beef, pumpkin seeds, and dark chocolate.
3) Foods rich in biotin
Biotin, otherwise known as water-soluble B7, is a vitamin that is essential for cell growth and metabolic functions. Alopecia (hair-loss) is a side-effect of biotin deficiency, and a 1999 study published in Pediatric Dermotology showed that biotin can help reverse the effects of alopecia areata in children. Biotin can be found in shampoos and supplements, but there are a variety of foods that are biotin-rich, as well.
Eat This: Organ meats, such as liver, are high in biotin. If consuming organ meats is a bit too much for your stomach, try eggs, leafy green vegetables like Swiss chard, almonds, berries, and halibut.
4) Foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids
Eschewing omega-3 fatty acids can result in an itchy, dry scalp, which can leave your hair looking and feeling lackluster. And even worse, dry scalp can lead to hair loss.
Eat This: Salmon and other fish are high in heart- and hair-healthy omega-3s. Fish not your bag? Walnuts, flax (both the seed and the oil), and soybeans are excellent sources. Omega-3s don’t just benefit the skin on the outside of your head; the fatty acids can also help with brain function, too.
5) Foods rich in B-vitamins
When it comes to hair loss amongst women, a B-vitamin deficiency may be a likely culprit. Birth control pills and consuming large amounts of alcohol cause B6 depletion, which can cause a host of problems from pink eye to neurological disorders, not to mention alopecia. Since the body doesn’t make B6 on its own, it has to be consumed either in food or as a supplement.
Furthermore, a diet lacking in B12 vitamins can lead to hair loss. Vegetarians, those who suffer from anemia, and those with digestion issues can suffer from a B12 deficiency.
Eat This: For B6, eat raw garlic, sunflower seeds, liver, Brussels sprouts, and wheat bran. For B12, consume more animal proteins and cheese. If you don’t eat animal proteins, a decent B-complex supplement will give you all the B12 you need.
BONUS: Take Your Vitamin-C!
You could be eating all of these foods for healthy hair, but if you’re skipping a daily dose of vitamin C, you might not be absorbing all of the nutrients you need to halt or reverse hair loss. Vitamin C aids in nutrient absorbtion, and men need at least 90 mg. Women need less, around 75 mg. If you choose to eat your vitamin C instead of taking a supplement, make sure you get plenty of citrus fruit, cruciferous vegetables (cauliflower, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts), and leafy greens. Great news if you like your food spicy: Green and red chili peppers are both excellent sources of vitamin C, even better than oranges.
About the Author: Adam works with Great Hair OKC, Oklahoma City hair restoration specialists. Adam enjoys writing about fitness and health.