Just about everyone has experienced a bit of hair envy. After all, who doesn’t dream of having luxurious, shoulder-toss worthy hair? For most people, hair health is a struggle caused by nutritional issues, chemical damage, genetics and a range of other issues. So if you long for a world free of flyways, shedding, split ends and dull hair that just won’t grow, you’re not alone.
In reality, there are plenty of things you can do to improve the health of your hair, but you have to look deeper than external hair treatments. If your hair just doesn’t seem as healthy as it should be, or has active signs of damage and distress, it might be trying to tell you something. Hair health is connected to overall health, so why not start working on the problem from within?
When you’re healthy, your hair is healthy.
Hair can offer us a bit of insight into our health. Of course, it can’t tell us everything, but it can tell us if something is off and point us in the right direction to fix it. Hair is actually a fairly complex substance made of keratin, which is a form of protein. The hair growth cycle is long and continuously moving through stages of growth, rest and shedding. Your body fuels the creation of hair and its movement through the growth cycle, which requires a fair amount of resources. Many hair issues, like excess shedding, brittle hair and poor texture, can actually be signs of deficiencies in your diet.
Hair nutrition 101
Many people struggle to meet all of their nutritional needs, especially with fast food and “empty” calories (foods that contain no nutrients) that are readily available. But there are some things you can do to turn it around, including using supplements to give your body the fuel it needs for stronger, longer and healthier hair.
Biotin benefits for hair
Also known as vitamin B7 or vitamin H, biotin is essential for your body to fully absorb nutrients from the foods you eat. Without it, you will not get everything you should be from your daily diet. Biotin aids in metabolizing fats, carbs and amino acids, among other functions. It is also important in stimulating keratin production. Current recommendations for biotin by the Institute of Medicine state that the daily adequate intake for adults is 30 μg/day. A deficiency in biotin can cause hair thinning and even skin rashes. Biotin can be found in a number of foods like eggs, milk, bananas and nuts.
Here are some answers to FAQs about biotin and hair:
- What does biotin do for hair? Biotin may stimulate hair follicle growth and keratin production.
- Does biotin help with hair loss or thicken hair? If you have a deficiency of biotin in your diet then biotin supplementation may be helpful in resolving your hair condition.
Selenium for hair loss
Selenium is a mineral that's necessary for many functions, but plays an especially important role in your metabolism and thyroid health. A selenium deficiency can cause fatigue, hair loss and even a weakened immune system. Selenium can be found in many sources including whole grains, nuts, beans, eggs, beef and tuna.
Answers to FAQs about selenium for hair:
- What are benefits of selenium for hair? Selenium helps with your metabolism, and it also helps fight the fungus that causes dandruff.
- Can selenium cause hair loss? In extremely high doses, selenium has led to selenosis, which can lead to hair alopecia.
Zinc (with selenium)
Zinc is an essential nutrient that your body utilizes in many important processes. Everything from protein and DNA synthesis to wound healing and immune function all rely on zinc. Zinc is a powerful nutrient, but it works more effectively when taken with selenium. Together, this power-combo promotes hair growth and health while helping to limit hair loss.
Answers to FAQs about zinc for hair loss:
- Is zinc good for hair? Zinc can promote healthy hair growth as a supplement or in food, and it is best when combined with selenium.
- How much zinc for hair loss should you take? You should talk with your healthcare provider for recommendations on zinc as a supplement. The recommended daily allowance is 11 mg for men and 8 mg for women, according to Harvard.
Caloric intake affects hair health
Overly restrictive diets (and eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa and bulimia) can create significant problems for hair. When you cut your intake, you also reduce the nutrients your body has available. If you do this too severely, or for too long, your body will not have the resources and nutrients it needs for hair growth. In fact, restrictive diets can lead to increased shedding and breakage. It can take months for the issue to correct itself once you boost your caloric intake.
The secret of combining nutrients
Proteins, vitamins and minerals are all vital parts of a healthy diet, but no single component is the key to looking and feeling your best. These nutrients work with each other to enhance their effectiveness in the various roles they play within the body. This can be difficult to provide through nutrition alone, especially if you are trying to correct a problem like hair that is dull, brittle, slow to grow or excessively shedding.
Foods that strengthen hair
- Brussels sprouts
- Fish, especially salmon (fatty fishes)
- Sweet peppers
- Sweet potatoes
Add supplements to your daily regime with ingredients that support healthy hair. No matter how potent an ingredient is, it takes a combined effort between overall nutrition and targeted supplementation to fully support hair growth. Aim for a well-rounded diet that offers the right amount of calories, protein and nutrients. Next, add supplements designed to support overall hair health. Your best bet is to look for a well-rounded hair-health supplement that supplies key nutrients like biotin, keratin, zinc, selenium and collagen.