Wondering why your hair seems to be so dull, brittle and lifeless lately?
Maybe your diet is the problem.
Your hair actually requires all sorts of minerals and vitamins to reach its full potential, but given the hectic, fast paced lifestyles so many of us lead nowadays, it is not always possible to supply our precious locks with all the nutrients they need.
This is where vitamin and mineral supplements come in.
In this post, we explore all the main minerals and vitamins that go into creating a full, healthy head of hair, and how you can make them a regular feature of your life – whether by taking a supplement, or changing your diet.
Iron: Many of us are deficient in iron, which transports oxygen through the blood to your hair (and every other area of your body) encouraging the growth and maintenance of your valuable strands. To add more iron to your diet, consider eating more foods like eggs, spinach, chicken and lentils. Talk with your doctor about how much iron you should be getting each day – it differs from person to person.
Vitamin D: Vitamin D is the crucial ingredient in the process whereby your hair follicles are recycled. It is especially important to make sure you get enough vitamin D if you live in climates where sunlight is very limited, as your body finds it difficult to synthesize this substance when weather conditions are not favorable. Consider taking a good daily vitamin D supplement, or change your diet to incorporate more grains, fish (salmon in particular), whole grains and -- surprisingly -- beef liver. Again talk to your doctor to get a better idea of the recommended daily intake.
B vitamins: In particular, the B-complex vitamins like niacin, biotin and cobalamin are pivotal in restoring thickness, luster and shine to your downtrodden looking hair. To get these precious little vitamins into your diet, opt for foods and dishes containing whole grains, legumes (like peas and beans), eggs and avocados.
Zinc: It is easy to lose zinc from your body, as it is a significant ingredient of sweat and urine. If you like to exercise and work up a sweat, consider replenishing your body's zinc levels by consuming foods with high zinc content -- like lamb, turkey, pumpkin foods and (believe it or not) chocolate -- or take a good 15-30 mg zinc supplement.
Vitamin C: Vitamin C is perhaps the best know antioxidant out there. Antioxidants help reduce the damage caused by roaming free radicals, which among other things are thought to be responsible for the development of many cancers -- but also damage hair follicle cells, leading over time to premature hair loss, graying of hair or having to use hairdressing scissors to chop off the damaged ends of your hair. Fortunately, if you maintain a balanced diet, you should get enough vitamin C in your diet. Some of the best sources are citrus fruits, strawberries, Brussels sprouts, and peppers.
Vitamin E: This is another important antioxidant that helps fight free radical damage resulting in hair loss. Again, maintain a balanced diet or take a good vitamin E supplement like tocotrienol -- though if you want to pursue the latter option, see your doctor first.
Iodine: Sometimes hair loss can result from thyroid disruption, in this case iodine can help restore normal functioning in the thyroid gland. Without sufficient thyroid hormones, your hair follicles will remain in the 'rest' phase of the hair growth cycle, instead of the growing phase. If you want to add more iodine to your diet, the most abundant sources are sea vegetables like kelp, seaweed, and kombu. However if like many, you don't find these palatable, an iodine supplement may be the way to go.