If you need to gauge the state of your health, one of the ways to do so is to look at the condition of your hair. Just as your skin and nails show the signs of your inner health, your hair’s appearance reflects how much or how little nutrition you are feeding your body.
To get shiny, lustrous and strong hair strands, you need to have the right balance of vitamins and minerals. Healthy hair always starts with a healthy scalp, and all this depends on maintaining a healthy diet and lifestyle. You can avoid taking expensive and unnecessary over-the-counter vitamin supplements and just load up on foods rich in zinc, iron, and biotin to keep your hair looking glorious and in the peak of health.
Nutrients to Enrich Your Hair
Hair experts have long expounded what you need to do to maintain a good head of hair – infused shampoos, specialized conditioners, hair spas, hair masks, hot oil treatments and every possible salon service. Something that all these experts agree on is that the secret of good hair comes from within the body itself. The body has to be in great condition and in good balance so that it can create a good environment to grow strong hair and nails and keep the skin glowing. Think of your body as a farm and your scalp as the field from which your hair sprouts. And just as the soil needs fertilizer, your scalp needs nutrients from the body to grow a healthy crop of hair. Experts have identified three of the top nutrients needed to enrich your hair: iron, zinc, and biotin.
This essential nutrient is responsible for carrying oxygen to your hair roots. Having strong roots is vital for hair growth. The hair follicles and roots must be fed by a nutrient-rich blood supply supplied by the body. A deficit in iron disrupts the nutrient supply which affects the hair growth which then results to shedding. This is why doctors have pointed to anemia (the state of having too little iron in the body) as one of the main culprits of hair loss.
Zinc promotes tissue repair and growth and cell reproduction. This is the mineral that keeps the oil-secreting glands at the base of the hair follicles working properly. It helps the glands generate the right amount of sebum to protect the hair and give it a shiny glow. Zinc also helps keep the body’s hormone levels regulated and helps the body absorb other nutrients. A zinc deficiency in the body could lead to dandruff and hair shedding because the body’s hormonal system goes out of whack and the hair roots are not going to get the nutrition they need to hold onto the hair strands and keep them healthy. But be cautious about going overboard with zinc supplements. The danger of having too much zinc in the body is also excessive hair fall. Experts advise getting your daily dose of zinc from food and not pills.
This water-soluble vitamin is also known by several names: vitamin B7, coenzyme R and vitamin H. Biotin is important to cell growth, improving metabolism and fatty acid production. It is mainly responsible for providing energy inside the body by helping it break down fats and carbohydrates and turning them into glucose, the body’s fuel. It also allows the body’s proteins to produce essential amino acids. For the hair, it encourages the growth of stronger and healthier strands by affecting the keratin infrastructure of the body. Keratin is the protein that makes up the bulk of our skin, nails, and hair. Therefore, a biotin deficiency will result in unhealthy skin, weak and brittle nails, and hair breakage or even hair loss.
Food to Eat for Enriched Hair
Now that you know the essential vitamins and minerals your hair needs to look and feel gorgeous, you can now work on incorporating foods rich in iron, zinc, and biotin into your daily diet so you can seamlessly enhance your overall health without the need for supplements.
These are among the foods that contain the most amounts of biotin and Omega-3 fatty acids. They also are an excellent source of protein and vitamin D, which works really well with zinc to prevent dandruff and hair shedding. These include salmon, tuna, sardines, mackerel, trout, halibut, and herring.
Dark green, leafy vegetables
The best examples of these are spinach, kale, broccoli, Swiss chard, and lettuce. These vegetables are rich in iron and calcium, which are building blocks to healthy hair. They are also good sources of vitamins A and C which aid the production of sebum, the hair’s natural conditioner and keep the hair follicles healthy.
Beans and legumes
These powerhouses of protein are also good sources of iron, zinc, and biotin – the big three of healthy hair. There is a wide variety of beans and legumes to choose from kidney beans, black beans, split peas, pink lentils, peanuts, chickpeas, soybeans and much more. They are versatile to use in the kitchen and can be added to anything from simple salads, hearty soups and stews, and main meat dishes. Be sure to have at least three servings a week of any kind of beans or legumes to ensure that your hair gets as much of the nutrients they provide.
Red lean meat
Since our hair is made mostly of keratin, a kind of protein, any deficiency in this vital nutrient will cause a stunt in hair growth. The red lean meat is an excellent source of this vital protein as well as being a source of iron for hair strength. This iron is easily absorbed and helps promote hair follicle health. Lean meat also helps increase blood circulation and decrease inflammation which leads to less hair loss. Some of the best examples of hair-enriching lean meat are poultry (chicken and turkey), liver, and lean cuts of beef and pork.
These are among the best food sources for hair-enriching biotin, B-vitamins, selenium, sulfur, iron, and protein. Eggs are another versatile food ingredient that lends itself well to different cooking techniques and recipes. They are easy to add to one’s diet and should always be eaten in moderation because an over-consumption of egg whites could block the absorption of the biotin and other hair-growing nutrients and lead to further hair loss.
Body Health = Hair Health
Now you know that there is no big secret to having strong and healthy hair. What is important is to keep your body healthy by taking in nutrient-rich food and leading a healthy lifestyle. Eating well and keeping fit will allow your body to be the healthy source of everything that grows out of it, like your skin, nails, and hair. Enriching your body enriches your hair so that it can truly become your own real crowning glory.
About The Author:
M Pimentel is a happily married Filipino mother to three wonderful little daughters, ages: 8 years, 5 years, and 4 months old. Her daily life is a struggle between being the Executive Content Director for Project Female and deciding who gets to watch television next. She specializes in creating and editing content for female empowerment, parenting, beauty, health/nutrition, and lifestyle.