With aisles and aisles of products aimed at improving the look and condition of hair, it can be easy to forget that one of the most important things you can do to keep your strands at their best this summer is to provide them with proper nutrition.
That’s right. Just as skin benefits from a healthy diet (like the rest of the body, for that matter), eating well and getting key nutrients ensures that hair gets what it needs. These nutrients promote growth and prevent breakage and dryness, especially during the heat and sun of the summer. Likewise, strong, shiny, soft hair is not only something that makes you look and feel beautiful, it’s also a sign that they are well-nourished.
Evaluate your eating habits to see if you’re lacking these eight healthy nutrition essentials:
Your hair’s structure is made of hardened proteins called keratin. When your protein stores are low, generation of this important building block slows, and hair grows slower and weaker. Lean meats, like chicken and turkey, and fish like tuna, halibut and tilapia are great high-protein foods to include in your diet. Low-fat mozzarella and cottage cheeses, tofu and quinoa are also terrific options to consider.
Lentils are a good source of biotin, a nutrient that has been shown to promote hair growth. When biotin interacts with cell enzymes, it helps produce amino acids, which form those ever-important proteins mentioned earlier. Researchers have even found that too little biotin can lead to hair loss. Carrots, almonds, walnuts and cauliflower are other smart choices.
Your hair follicles receive nourishing oxygen from the iron in your red blood cells. While the level of iron in your blood may be considered normal, there is still a chance that you may have low ferritin, the “bank” of iron your body keeps to draw on when it needs it. Low ferritin has been linked to slow or halted hair growth, as well as shedding. Do your best to avoid this by eating iron-rich foods such as oysters, clams, lean beef, eggs, tuna, soybeans, spinach, tofu and garbanzo beans.
4. Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3s are found in the cell membranes of your scalp’s skin, and in the natural oils your scalp and hair produce to stay hydrated. Getting enough of these essential fatty acids can help prevent dry scalp and help your hair grow and shine. Eating wild salmon and other fatty fish like striped sea bass or mackerel twice a week will ensure a healthy dose of omega-3s. Or, if you’re not a fan of fish, incorporate some plant-derived sources into your diet, such as flax seeds, walnuts, soybeans or canola oil.
While your locks are made primarily of protein, they’re also made of water; you need to maintain moisture to avoid dryness and breakage. In addition to leave-in conditioners or other hydrating products to soften strands, make sure you’re also replenishing yourself by drinking plenty of water each day. Eating water-rich fruits and vegetables helps hydrate your mane as well.
6. B Vitamins
Vitamins B6, B12 and folate help create red blood cells, which carry oxygen and nutrients to all the cells in the body, including the ones in the scalp and hair follicles. If you’re not getting enough B vitamins, the cells can starve, making hair more prone to shedding, slower growth and breakage. Pork tenderloin is packed with these vitamins, but if you don’t eat pork, load up on beans, chicken, oatmeal and low-fat dairy.
7. Vitamin C
This essential nutrient does a couple of things to help promote healthy hair, such as helping the body absorb iron. Vitamin C is also used to form collagen, a structural fibre that makes up the connective tissue in the body, which hair follicles require for optimal growth. Bell peppers, thyme, parsley, kale, Brussels sprouts, oranges and strawberries all pack a vitamin C punch.
This mineral helps strengthen your hair follicles and prevent hair loss by binding its proteins. Zinc also plays a role in proper oil gland function, which protects your locks from dryness and dandruff. Shellfish like oysters, crab, lobster, clams and mussels all have high zinc content. In fact, just three ounces of oysters (about two medium-size oysters) has a whopping 493% of the daily recommended value of zinc. Sunflower seeds, peanuts, pine nuts, beef, lamb, pork and cereals with whole grains and bran are some other zinc-rich foods to choose from.
The Vintage Avenue Team x