Hair is one of those things that can, when it’s working in your favor, make you feel Beyoncé-level confident and, when it’s working against you, make you feel like putting a paper bag over your head and never leaving the house. But for all that you’re after—shine, strength, thickness, more volume, less frizz, fewer limp, and oily strands—your diet can make a big difference. The power of nourishing foods is practically endless. Sure, good food choices can help you get in shape, but it can also ensure #HairGoals at its finest.
Just like imbalances in your diet can affect your skin and cause acne, the foods that you eat can have a huge impact on your hair. To help you get closer to your hair goals, we put together this guide to foods for healthy hair. Keep scrolling to see the nutrients that make a big difference when it comes to the health and appearance of your strands, and which foods to eat to get them!
Our body already makes biotin, so it’s not too important to take supplements unless you’re deficient (which a small percentage of people actually are). What is important is to eat a balanced diet that includes biotin-rich foods, such as eggs, almonds, and avocados.
Folate and iron help to create red blood cells, which carry oxygen to your scalp and follicle cells to promote hair growth. Iron deficiency, which is common in women during childbearing years, is also linked to hair loss. Spinach is one of the highest food sources of folate and iron, so cook up a cup with your morning omelet or have a fresh spinach salad for lunch.
Protein is vital for all cell growth, especially that of your hair. Hair gets its structure from proteins called keratin, and a deficiency in protein for keratin leads to slow hair growth as well as weak and thin hair strands. Foods rich in protein are chicken, pork, and lean beef. However, if you are vegetarian, lentils, tofu, and soybeans are great sources of protein as well.
Vitamin C is used to create collagen, which is a fiber that helps our hair follicles remain healthy for hair growth and prevents our strands from splitting. Bell peppers, oranges, and tomatoes are rich in vitamin C.
Vitamin A promotes cell growth which equals hair growth. It also helps the body to produce sebum, which is essential for a healthy scalp and healthy, nourished hair. Sweet potatoes, carrots, spinach, and kale are all high in beta-carotene, which gets converted into vitamin A.
Zinc helps restore and promote the growth of hair tissues by improving overall immunity in the body. Surprisingly, oysters, crab, clams, and other shellfish are high in zinc and generally good-for-you sources of lean protein as well, so hit the raw bar after work—in the name of your hair.
Omega-3 fatty acids are basically miracle workers for your hair. They have anti-inflammatory properties, so they help open the hair follicles and promote hair growth. Omega-3 fatty acids are also reported to make your hair shinier (yes, please). Fatty fish, like salmon and tuna, or walnuts and flaxseeds if you’re vegetarian, are all sources of this healthy fat.
If you're dealing with damage, broccoli is your hair's best friend because it boosts the strength of your strands. "Broccoli is high in folate, which helps cell division,” says registered dietitian Carolyn Brown. “If you have weak, thinning, or brittle hair, it can be a sign of low folate levels.”
“Sea buckthorn is an Asian berry that’s loaded with omega-7s, beta-carotene, and vitamin C,” Brown explains, all of which are great for supporting healthy, shiny, gorgeous strands.
In addition to being good for your bones, calcium is important for your hair. Calcium located in the cells of the hair follicles stimulates communication between cells and encourages hair growth. Foods like cheese, yogurt, tofu, and even cabbage, are go-to calcium sources.
Now that you know food and hair are intertwined, let your diet follow suit and stock up your fridge with these healthy options. Dreaming of long hair? Find out the five foods for longer hair next.