If you’re like me, you’ll love spending time looking at the latest hair products that claim to take away frizz, make hair grow faster, keep hair hydrated or give you beach tasselled curls. These products not make you look, feel and smell great, but they can also empty your purse rather quickly! When trying to achieve healthy looking hair, it’s important to go back to basics and look at your diet and how this can influence your hair health. Take a look at the key nutrients below that influence your flowing locks:
Tip #1 - Protein
Hair is primarily made from protein, in particular keratin and collagen. Therefore, the most important dietary tip for strong healthy hair is to consume protein rich foods. Government recommendations are for adult women to consume 46g of protein per day. This guideline can vary depending upon your age and health status. If you are lacking protein in your diet, your hair can appear dry, thin and brittle.
Best protein sources: Animal based - Lean red meats, chicken, turkey, fish, eggs, Greek yoghurt, cheese.
Plant based - Nuts, tofu, beans & legumes, seeds (particularly chia, sesame, poppy and sunflower).
Tip #2 - Omega-3 Fatty Acids
It is important to have a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids as our bodies are unable to make it by itself. When it comes to hair, omega-3s are found in the cells that line the scalp. They are responsible for providing the natural oils that help maintain a healthy scalp and hydrated hair. A lack of omega-3 in the diet can result in a dry itchy scalp, dandruff and dry brittle hair.
Best omega-3 sources: Animal based – Oily fish such as salmon, sardines and mackerel.
Plant based – Avocado, olive oil, walnuts and pumpkin seeds.
Tip #3 - Iron
On average, hair grows approximately ½ inch (1.3 cm) per month. Hair follicles need a nutrient rich blood supply in order to grow effectively. Iron is key in this. When iron levels are low (anaemia), the nutrient supply to hair follicles are reduced and can result in slow hair growth and hair loss. Adult women (aged 19-50 without any health conditions) are encouraged to consume 18mg of iron per day.
IMPORTANT: if you suspect you may have an iron deficiency, seek advice from your doctor promptly.
Best iron sources: Animal based - Beef, lamb, chicken, salmon, tuna
Plant based - Kidney beans, tofu, green lentils, chickpeas, cooked wholemeal pasta
Tip #4 - Vitamin C
Vitamin C helps the body to absorb iron and as a result improves scalp circulation and hair growth. It also plays a role in the production of collagen which is one of the building blocks of hair. A lack of vitamin C can cause slow hair growth and even cause shedding of the hair.
Best vitamin C sources: Plant based - Strawberries, kiwifruit, blackcurrants, blueberries, oranges, papaya, broccoli, red capsicum, sweet potatoes.
Tip #5 – Biotin
Biotin or vitamin H is essential for growth and maintaining a healthy metabolism. It plays a role in the body’s production of proteins which can encourage the growth of stronger hair. A lack of biotin in the diet can result in brittle hair and hair loss.
Best biotin sources: Animal based - Eggs, salmon, liver, cow’s milk.
Plant based – Wholegrains, soy flour, tomatoes, almonds, onions, carrots, sweet potato, cauliflower.
Written by Perri Simon
SiSU Wellness Nutritionist