Hair Loss Diet: Foods for Hair Growth and Thickness

smiling young woman with curly hair eating a bowl of berries

When it comes to treating hair loss, what you eat is just as important as the products you use. A good diet can help supply the essential nutrients your hair needs to stay strong and healthy. Eating a balanced diet of protein, complex carbohydrates, iron, Healthy fats and vitamins can contribute to healthier and thicker looking hair.

 

When our diets are not meeting the nutritional needs of our bodies, our hair health can be one of the first things to be affected. Nutrient deficiencies can lead to hair loss. This means that in order to treat hair loss effectively and stimulate new hair growth, it is often essential to ensure that our diet is adequate. In this guide, we will overview the ways in which nutritional deficiency can lead to hair loss and discuss strategies to ensure that your diet includes everything your hair needs to grow thick and strong.

Nutritional Deficiency and Hair Loss

Nutritional deficiency can lead to a lot of problems with our body – including hair loss. When we do not get adequate amounts of essential vitamins and minerals, our bodies cannot carry out normal activities, including the production of new cells, including those used for hair growth. Nutritional deficiencies can be caused by a number of factors such as poor absorption due to digestive issues or inadequate intake from food sources.

How Diet Affects Hair Follicles

Your hair follicles require a number of essential vitamins, minerals and nutrients in order to remain healthy and produce new hair. A diet that is lacking in these components can lead to a decrease in the production of new hair cells, leading to hair loss.

 

The hair growth cycle has three phases: anagen (growth), catagen (transition), and telogen (resting). The anagen phase, during which the hair follicles grow longer, can last two to six years. After the hairs fall out, they enter the catagen stage, a transitional phase that only lasts for two or three weeks. The final stage in this cycle is telogen phase, or the “resting phase”; at this point, the hair remains very tiny before re-entering into the growing phase again.

 

The telogen phase, or “resting stage,” usually lasts 2-3 months. However, when our bodies are lacking certain nutrients, the resting phase can be extended. This means that new hairs are not being produced as quickly and your hair may start to thin out.

Diet and Androgenetic Alopecia

Androgenetic alopecia (also known as androgenic alopecia) is the most common type of hair loss, affecting both men and women. It occurs when testosterone and other male hormones interact with hair follicle cells to cause a decrease in the production of hair. Specifically, testosterone is converted to Dihydrotestosterone (DHT) which disrupts hair growth.

 

This type of alopecia is commonly known as male pattern hair loss or female pattern hair loss. While androgenetic alopecia has the same root causes in men and women, there are some differences in how it presents. People with male pattern hair loss will typically experience a receding hairline and/ or hair loss that starts from a spot on the back of the scalp. Meanwhile, female pattern hair loss is more likely to cause diffuse hair loss, with widespread thinning often most prominent along the part and hair line. Although there is no cure for this hair loss condition, there are certain dietary changes that can help slow down its progression.

 

Vitamins such as Vitamin A, B complex, C and E are all essential for hair growth as they support cell reproduction and health. Minerals such as zinc, iron and magnesium are also important for maintaining strong and healthy hair follicles and preventing brittle hair. Protein is also an essential component of your diet – it helps build the keratin found in your scalp which makes up the bulk of your hairs structure.

Foods to Promote Hair Growth

In order to ensure that your diet is adequate for hair growth, it’s important to include plenty of foods high in certain nutrients that are linked to healthier hair. Here are some examples of foods that may help promote hair health and prevent further hair loss:

Dark Leafy Greens

Dark leafy greens like spinach, kale and Swiss chard are all packed full of vitamins A and C which help to promote healthy cell growth. These green leafy vegetables are also full of iron and calcium which has been shown to help maintain strong and healthy hair.

Nuts & Seeds

Foods like almonds, chia seeds and walnuts are great sources of protein, zinc and Vitamin E – which are all essential to promote hair growth and keep hair healthy.

Legumes

Lentils and beans are some of the highest iron and protein-rich plant foods available. Including these in your diet is a great way to protect hair follicles and prevent hair loss.

Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes are a great source of Vitamin A – which is widely recognized as one of the most essential vitamins for growing healthier hair.

Avocado

Avocados contain biotin, a B-vitamin which has been shown to support hair growth and prevent hair loss.

Eggs

Eggs are also a great source of biotin, and a great vegetarian source of protein – both of which are crucial for preventing hair loss and promoting healthy hair.

Fatty Fish

Fatty fish, such as salmon and mackerel, are packed full of omega-3 fatty acids that help to nourish and protect the scalp. Omega-3 also helps to reduce inflammation in the body which can help keep hair healthy.

Red Meat

Red meat is a great source of protein, iron and zinc – all of which are essential for hair growth. Although there are plenty of vegetable sources for these nutrients, it’s important to ensure that people on vegan or vegetarian eat plant foods with high nutritional value to avoid deficiencies in protein and iron which are linked to hair loss.

Berries

Berries are a great source of antioxidants which help protect the body from oxidative damage. They also contain Vitamin C, which is essential for healthy hair growth and scalp health.

By incorporating these foods into your diet, you’ll help to ensure that your body has the nutrients it needs for healthy and strong hair growth. Not only may these foods prevent hair loss, maintaining a balanced and nutritious diet overall will also have countless other benefits for your health.

The Importance of Protein for Hair Growth

Protein is an essential component of your diet – it helps to build the keratin found in your scalp which makes up the bulk of your hairs structure. Eating plenty of protein-rich foods such as eggs, legumes and fish will help ensure that your body has all the building blocks necessary for healthy hair growth. Additionally, taking a high quality protein supplement can also be beneficial in helping to promote strong and healthy hair growth.

Collagen for Hair Loss

Collagen is an important protein located in dermal tissues like skin, hair, and nails. It improves skin elasticity and prevents wrinkling, as well as strengthening hair follicles.

As a protein, Collagen contains 18 essential amino acids that are vital to our body’s daily functions. Collagen and its essential amino acids are mostly founds in animal food sources like meat and eggs.

Because collagen is only found in animal sources, vegans won’t find this important nutrition in their standard diet. For this reason, it’s important that people on a vegan diet who are experiencing hair loss make sure to utilize appropriate nutritional supplements in order to avoid nutrient deficiency that can prevent hair regrowth.

Essential Fatty Acids for Hair Thinning

Our bodies cannot produce essential fatty acids on our own, which is why we need to include omega fatty acids in our diet if we want healthy hair. While omega fatty acids are not specifically hair vitamins, they are critical nutrients that have a direct impact on hair follicles.

 

A 2015 study found that patients who ate supplements containing omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids saw a reduction in hair loss. Patients who were experiencing hair loss saw a decrease in hair miniaturization and and increase in hair density after including these essential fatty acid supplements into their diet.

 

There are three types of essential fatty acids: omega-3, omega-6, and omega-9. The best food sources of Omega-3 fatty acids include fatty fish, chia seed oil, and flaxseed oil. Whereas Omega 6 fatty acids are found in large quantities in sunflower oil, safflower oil, and corn oil. Omega 9 can be sourced from olive oil or avocado oil.

Dietary Supplements for Hair Loss

A variety of capsule supplements and pills

If you find that your diet isn’t providing you with the necessary nutrients for hair growth, then taking a dietary supplement can be a great way to ensure that your body is getting all the vitamins and minerals it needs. Here’s an overview of the some of the most important vitamins for hair growth:

Vitamin E

Vitamin E deficiencies are a common cause of hair thinning, and studies have shown that patients with alopecia areata (AA) are likely to have lower levels of vitamin E in their blood than those without the condition.

 

Vitamin E is an important nutrient for hair health. It helps protect the shaft from damage, supports sebum production to keep the scalp healthy, and also improves blood circulation to the scalp which promotes hair growth.

 

Scalp problems, such as dryness, itching, and dandruff can be caused by a lack of vitamin E. This problem can be remedied simply by adding more vitamin E-rich foods to your diet or taking a supplement. Some excellent sources of this nutrient include nuts, seeds, avocado, olives and green leafy vegetables.

Iron

Iron is necessary for the body to make hemoglobin. Hemoglobin helps carry oxygen in blood throughout the body. So when iron levels are low, there’s less oxygen being delivered to tissues, which then causes fatigue and other symptoms like hair loss.

 

Iron deficiency anemia is a common blood disorder that can cause fatigue, pale skin, shortness of breath, chest pain, fast heartbeat, headache, or dizziness. The condition is usually diagnosed with a complete blood count (CBC), which measures the amount of hemoglobin in your blood and the number of blood cells.

 

Iron deficiency plays a role in the hair growth cycle for both men and women. This 2013 study found that low levels of iron were closely associated with hair loss in patients.

 

If someone is experiencing hair loss due to a lack of iron in their diet, there are plenty of iron supplements available to choose from. While some iron supplements are derived from animal sources, such as meat or eggs, there are vegan or “non-heme,” iron supplements which derive their iron from plant foods like grains, legumes, and leafy greens.

Zinc

Many people don’t realize that zinc is a mineral essential for many aspects of health, including hair growth. Zinc can be found in food sources such as red meat, poultry, and seafood, or it can be taken as a supplement.

 

Zinc is believed to be vital for hair growth in the way it activates enzymes responsible for healthy hair – as discussed in this study. A zinc deficiency often causes hair loss, however supplements can help improve scalp health when there’s a lack of this mineral.

 

If someone is experiencing hair loss due to a zinc deficiency, taking a zinc supplement may be an excellent way to help keep hair heathy. However, its important to realize that too much zinc can cause problems as well – so be sure to consult a doctor before starting any new supplement regimen.

Vitamin C

orange slice in the shape of a C

Vitamin C is important for many reasons. Vitamin C plays a key role in collagen production, which is found in the skin, blood vessels, and bones. Vitamin c also helps the body absorb iron, essential for forming blood cells and promoting normal cell growth. Furthermore, vitamin C has antioxidant properties which can protect against damage from harmful substances like pollution or cigarette smoke.

 

When your body lacks vitamin C, you can become iron deficient. Since iron is involved in the creation of red blood cells, a lack thereof causes anemia – which can lead to symptoms like hair loss, fatigue, and impaired wound healing. If you are lacking vitamin C in your diet, taking a daily vitamin C supplement could be a strategic part of treating hair loss.

B Vitamins

The human body needs several B vitamins to function properly. Here are the most important ones for hair health:

 

Thiamin (Vitamin B1)

Thiamin is one of the B vitamins that helps many bodily functions like energy production, nerve function, and even hair and scalp health. Studies have shown that thiamin contributes to the proliferation of epidermal keratinocytes, which impact hair follicle growth. You can find thiamin in common foods such as meats and grains.

 

Thiamin deficiencies can lead to issues with the scalp’s skin and can directly contribute to hair loss. A lack of this vital nutrient can also negatively impact blood sugar regulation, which in turn can impact hair follicle health.

 

Riboflavin (Vitamin B2)

As one of the B vitamins, riboflavin is essential for numerous bodily functions like energy production and red blood cell formation. You can find it in common foods such as milk, cheese, eggs, and green veggies. Riboflavin is important for keeping hair healthy. Studies have shown that deficiency in b vitamins like riboflavin can lead to hair loss.

 

Niacin (Vitamin B3)

Niacin is important for hair growth because it has been shown to prevent oxidative stress on hair follicle cells. Nacin also helps to produce energy and fatty acids, both of which are necessary for healthy hair. A niacin deficiency can lead to a condition called Pellagra, which causes skin lesions, diarrhea, and dementia.

 

Pantothenic Acid (Vitamin B5)

Pantothenic acid is an important water soluble B vitamin that has been shown to to encourage healthy hair growth. It can be found in many foods and helps to maintain the health of the scalp and produce keratin, the protein that makes up hair shafts.

 

Vitamin B6

Vitamin B6 is often added to multivitamins marketing to support hair growth because it encourages cell generation and scalp health, both of which are important for strong hair. Vitamin B6 can be found in nutrient-rich foods such as poultry, fish, whole grains, and bananas.

 

Biotin (Vitamin B7)

Biotin (vitamin B7), is a water-soluble B vitamin that does wonders for the hair, skin, and nails. You can find biotin in lots of foods like eggs, milk, salmon and avocados among others.

 

Although rare, a biotin deficiency can lead to a number of health problems. Hair loss is one of the most common symptoms biotin deficiency, which can affect both genders. However, other side effects may include brittle nails, dry skin, and rashes.

 

There are many biotin supplements on the market in various forms, such as topical serums and oral pills. Although advertised as hair growth products, there is no scientific proof that topical biotin works to treat hair loss. Nevertheless, taking oral biotin supplements could improve noticeable differences for some people with hair loss issues.

 

Folate (Vitamin B9) and Folic Acid

Folic acid is the precursor to folate (vitamin B9) and it is often added to enriched foods and supplements. It can be found in leafy green vegetables, legumes, nuts, and other food items. Folic acid helps the body create new cells and properly develop the nervous system. Additionally, deficiencies in folates have been linked to hair loss.

 

Vitamin B12

Vitamin B12 is essential for hair growth as it aids in cell reproduction. Furthermore, a healthy scalp is crucial if you want to stimulate hair growth, and vitamin B12 can help to maintain a healthy scalp. Some foods that are rich in vitamin B12 include poultry, fish, whole grains, and bananas. It is also found in many over-the-counter hair vitamins.

 

Vitamin B12 deficiencies are somewhat rare, although they can be more common in people on vegan diets. A vitamin b12 deficiency can cause numerous health issues. One of the most frequent symptoms is hair loss in both genders. Additionally, brittle nails, dry skin, and skin rashes may occur.

Vitamin A

Vitamin A is essential for hair growth as it aids in producing sebum, which is a type of oil that helps keep the scalp and hair hydrated. Vitamin a can be obtained by eating many foods including carrots, sweet potatoes, eggs, and spinach that are rich in beta carotene. Beta carotene is the precursor to vitamin a and is converted into vitamin a in the body.

Vitamin D

dropper bottle of vitamin oil backlit by the sun

Vitamin D is an important vitamin for hair growth. Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium, which is needed to maintain strong and healthy hair follicles. Vitamin D can be found in dairy products, fatty fish such as salmon and tuna, and eggs. Additionally, sun exposure is the best way to obtain vitamin D from the environment.

 

Although a deficiency in vitamin d is rare, it can cause numerous health issues including brittle nails, dry skin, and even hair loss in some cases. If you suspect that you might have a vitamin d deficiency it is always best to consult with your physician or dietician for a proper diagnosis.

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