Nutrition for Healthy Hair

This is an excerpt from an article I did about a year ago for Vital Source, Life University’s on campus newspaper. I thought a lot of you may enjoy!

Nourishing the hair with a healthy diet:

  1. Protein: The hair is made of a particular type of protein known as keratin. Consuming adequate protein is necessary for growth and strength. The best high protein sources include but are not limited to eggs, fish, poultry, lean cuts of beef, and low fat dairy.
  2. Biotin: The body needs biotin to for a healthy scalp and growth. Deficiencies in Biotin are actually rare so contrary to popular belief supplementation is not necessary. Great sources include eggs, peanut butter, almonds, walnuts, wild salmon, and avocado.
  3. Other B Vitamins: These are all important for red blood cell production which carries oxygen to the scalp promoting hair growth. Sources include fortified cereals, garbanzo beans, wild salmon, tuna, eggs, cheese, and oatmeal.
  4. Vitamin C: Vitamin C is necessary for the absorption of iron which also delivers oxygen with red blood cells to hair follicles for proper growth. Vitamin C is abundant in bell peppers, kiwis, strawberries, oranges, and broccoli.
  5. Beta carotene: Beta Carotene is converted to Vitamin A in the body, which is necessary for all the stages of cellular life giving the hair body and shine. Sources include sweet potatoes, carrots, pumpkin, apricots, and red bell peppers.  
  6.  Zinc: This mineral gives stability to the oil glands of the scalp allowing for proper growth and prevents dry scalp which can lead to dandruff. Great sources of this mineral include crab, pork tenderloin, peanut butter, wheat germ, pumpkin seeds, and pine nuts.
  7. Omega 3 fatty acids: Omega 3 is excellent for adding moisture to the hair follicles allowing the hair to grow with that beautiful luster! Sources include salmon, walnuts, ground flaxseed, mackerel, and sardines.

 

Shampoo Basics

  1. Always choose shampoos free of harsh chemicals such as sulfates. Sulfates have a poignant drying effect that can lead to breakage, lack of shine and even hair loss! Sulfate free brands include Burt’s Bees, Alba, Organix, and L’Oreal Ever pure.
  2. Do not wash your hair everyday. I know this is very hard for many people who have naturally oily hair or who get sweaty working out. Washing the hair every day leads to dry, dull, lifeless hair because it strips the hair of its natural oils. The follicles do not have enough time in twenty fours hours to secrete proper amounts of oil for healthy hair growth. Experiment with up dos that can be sporty or even elegant.
  3. A great way to avoid washing your hair is using a dry shampoo. These can be purchased or home made, which is a plus because it is cheap and natural! Mix equal amounts of baking soda and cornstarch. Dip a comb in, tap, and brush around roots or dry hair to stop that “greasy” look. Repeat as necessary. Use a dryer to blow away excess powder. Style as usual.

 

Conditioning Treatments

  1. Treating the hair to a nice conditioning treatment once a week is essential for adding much needed moisture for shine and softness. Try using an all natural deep conditioner such as Burt’s Bees. Shampoo hair as usual and apply conditioner. Allow to sit at least ten to twenty minutes. Depending on how dry your hair may be, you can leave it on even longer! If you have oily hair, focus on applying the conditioner to the ends.
  2. For a nice homemade conditioning treatment apply a mashed avocado to clean wet hair and follow directions above. Another great home made conditioner is applying a mashed banana mixed with plain yogurt to clean wet hair. Allow to sit as above. 

 

Boosting Shine

  1. Always use only slightly warm water on hair because the hotter the water is, the more it can dry out your hair by removing moisture. A quick shine booster is to simply rinse hair with cold water after you have conditioned it.
  2. Tea treatments are excellent for shine. Use cooled brewed tea the matches your hair color such as chamomile tea for blonde, rooibos tea for red hair, and black tea for brunettes. Apply to wet hair, allow to soak for approximately ten minutes, shampoo out, and condition.
  3. For a home made hot oil shine treatment apply warmed (but not HOT) olive oil, avocado oil, or any other carrier oil to wet hair. Allow to sit for about two minutes, shampoo out and condition.

 

Hopefully these tips will get you well own your way to having not only beautiful but healthy hair as well. You do not have to spend large amounts of money on hair products to attain the hair you want. Eating a healthy diet and following healthy practices with shampooing and conditioning can greatly improve those locks!

1) Bauer, J. (2007). Food cures. New York: Rodale Inc..

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