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Experiencing Hair Loss? Your Diet May Be At Fault

Your diet plays a surprisingly large role in the growth of your hair. Just like eating the right diet can keep you healthy and fit, the right food can help to stimulate hair growth and keep your hair strong and healthy as you get older. In this article, you will find out which are the best foods to eat for hair growth and thickness.

Hair falling out is a normal part of life and a natural part of the balance in the body. On an average day, most people lose between 50 and 100 hairs. This is not typically noticeable because new, growing hairs are coming in at approximately the same rate. Hair loss, therefore, is the result of poor hair growth failing to replace the lost hair.

Hair loss is a prevalent problem across society. One analysis found that hair loss, primarily stemming from androgenetic alopecia, affects an estimated 67% of men and nearly 24% of women. Androgenetic alopecia is the most common form of patterned hair loss affecting men and women worldwide.

Hair health problems, particularly hair loss, strike an emotional chord for many people. When faced with such issues, people tend to

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  • Change their hairstyle to hide the problem
  • Purchase hair products with claims on the label promoting hair growth and restoration properties
  • Turn to supplements and vitamins marketed for hair growth

Nutritional deficiencies are a commonly overlooked factor when it comes to hair loss.

Like the health of most functions of the body, the health of your hair largely depends on your nutritional habits. In particular, certain vitamin deficiencies can have a major impact on your hair – stemming from hair follicle cell metabolism issues. Micronutrients like vitamins and minerals play a critical role in normal hair follicle development and function.

Over-the-counter supplements and vitamins are a popular choice, but using these products may have the exact opposite of the intended effect. Getting too much of certain nutrients can actually exacerbate hair loss and damage.

Ultimately, food sources are the healthiest and most natural choice when it comes to your nutritional balance. Vitamins and nutrients shown to influence hair follicle cell development and health include:

  • Vitamin D
  • Vitamin A
  • Biotin
  • Selenium
  • Iron
  • Zinc
  • Fatty Acids
  • Amino acids and proteins

With this in mind, below you will find more information about the food groups and types your can target in your diet for hair growth and thickness:

Lean protein for hair growth and thickness

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Hair is made of protein – so it should come as no surprise that this nutrient is an essential component of natural hair growth and thickness. Not eating enough protein can lead to brittle, weak and dry hair – leaving it more susceptible to breaks. Diets that are extremely low in protein can lead to restricted hair growth or hair loss.

Lean meats to support healthy hair include

  • Chicken
  • Turkey
  • Fish

Vegan options include

  • Tofu and tempeh
  • Legumes
  • Nuts

Healthy fats

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Fatty fish are well-known sources of protein and essential fatty acids like omega-3s, but beyond that, these foods are also high in vitamin B, selenium and vitamin D – all of which help promote hair growth and thickness.

Fatty fish packed with hair health nutrients include:

  • Tuna
  • Mackerel
  • Salmon
  • Herring

Vegan options include

  • Flaxseed
  • Chia
  • Nuts
  • Algae oil supplements. In fact, all fish get their omega 3 content by eating algae.

Eggs

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Scrambled, fried, sunny-side up – doesn’t matter how you like them, eggs are one of the best foods for hair growth. Nutrients found in eggs that can help promote hair growth include zinc, selenium, biotin and, of course, protein.

Protein, in particular, helps prevent hair loss. Biotin, a form of vitamin B, is critical for the health of skin, nails and hair – and research has directly linked a deficiency in biotin to hair loss. In one study of women, 38% with hair loss were found to be deficient in biotin.

Fruits

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Fruits are rich in compounds that play a critical role in healthy hair, including antioxidants and vitamin C. Antioxidants and vitamin C work to protect hair follicles for free radicals while also helping the body absorb iron and produce collagen – one of the primary proteins that help strengthen hair and prevent hair loss.

Fruits to focus on for your hair health diet include:

  • Berries
  • Cherries
  • Apricots
  • Grapes
  • Oranges

Leafy Greens

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Dark, leafy greens are a great source of nutrients that help prevent hair loss – including vitamin A, beta carotene, folate, iron and vitamin C. Vitamin A, specifically, is a critical nutrient for hair health. This vitamin helps the body produce sebum – an oil that moisturizes the scalp to protect hair.

Dark, leafy greens you can try include:

  • Collards
  • Spinach
  • Kale

Nuts and Seeds are one of the best foods for hair growth

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Nuts and seeds are packed with nutrients and that help protect hair health and work against hair loss. Vital nutrients found in nuts and seeds include zinc, selenium, vitamin E and omega-3 fatty acids. No wonder they are considered one of the best foods for hair growth.

Nuts and seeds make for great snacks – some particularly healthful ones include:

  • Almonds
  • Flax seeds
  • Chia seeds
  • Walnuts
  • Brazil nuts

Of note, the body cannot produce zinc and selenium naturally – and it is important to seek out food sources to get the right amount of these nutrients. Research has linked low levels of both zinc and selenium to poor hair growth and even hair loss.

Low-fat Dairy Products

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Low-fat dairy products are high in calcium which is an essential mineral for hair growth and health. Beyond calcium, these foods also contain casein and whey, which are high-quality protein sources that promote strong hair.

Low-fat dairy products to help support hair include:

  • Yogurt
  • Cottage cheese
  • Skim milk

Vegan options include

  • Soy foods
  • Beans. Peas, lentils
  • Almonds, brazil nuts
  • Seeds

In short, making healthy and targeted dietary choices is the best strategy for promoting strong, healthy hair and growth.

Although supplements are readily available, it is important to know that these products are not regulated with the same rigour as medicines. They have risks and in the absence of a deficiency, they may even trigger hair loss.

References:

The Mayo Clinic. Hair loss. Last reviewed May 22, 2020.

Salman KE, Altunay IK, et al. Frequency, severity and related factors of androgenetic alopecia in dermatology outpatient clinic: hospital-based cross-sectional study in Turkey. An Bras Dermatol. 2017;92(1):35-40. doi:10.1590/abd1806-4841.20175241.

Guo EL, Katta R. Diet and hair loss: effects of nutrient deficiency and supplement use. Dermatol Pract Concept. 2017;7(1):1-10. Published 2017 Jan 31. doi:10.5826/dpc.0701a01

Trüeb RM. Serum Biotin Levels in Women Complaining of Hair Loss. Int J Trichology. 2016;8(2):73-77. doi:10.4103/0974-7753.188040.

Almohanna HM, Ahmed AA, Tsatalis JP, Tosti A. The Role of Vitamins and Minerals in Hair Loss: A Review. Dermatol Ther (Heidelb). 2019;9(1):51-70. doi:10.1007/s13555-018-0278-6.