6 Foods for Healthy Hair

Best foods for healthy hair such as salmon, spinach, almonds, sweet potatoes, eggs, walnuts, cabbage, cheese, red pepper, banana and soy are sitting on a table with blocks spelling out 'hair food'.

Starting a hair-healthy diet today will mean a more gorgeous head of hair within six months to a year. (Image: Airborne77 via Dreamstime)

Starting a diet for healthy hair today will mean a more gorgeous head of hair within six months to a year, depending on how fast your hair grows. Eat these foods for shiny, lustrous locks.

Foods to eat for healthy hair

1. Spinach

This leafy vegetable is excellent for your body for many reasons, not the least of which is healthy hair. The power players here are folate and iron. Folate is a B vitamin that aids the creation of red blood cells, and iron (which spinach is high in) helps the red blood cells carry oxygen. With iron deficiency, a condition known as anemia, cells can’t get enough oxygen to function properly. The result can be devastating to the whole body, causing weakness, fatigue, and maybe even hair loss.

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2. Eggs

Eggs are rich in biotin, a B vitamin essential for hair growth and overall scalp health. People ask me about biotin for healthy hair all the time — usually, they’ve heard about it on a shampoo commercial or read a magazine article that recommended biotin supplements. Because our bodies make their own biotin in the intestines and it is plentiful in many common foods, deficiency is very rare. But in those few cases in which people are very ill and their intestines don’t function properly, biotin deficiency causes hair loss. So yes, biotin is important for healthy hair, but you don’t need to take supplements.

Closeup of an egg yolk frying in a pan.
Eggs are rich in biotin, a B vitamin essential for hair growth and overall scalp health. (Image: BarbaraJackson via Pixabay)

3. Oysters

The mineral zinc is involved in tissue growth and repair — and that includes hair growth. It also helps keep the oil glands around the hair follicles working properly. Low levels of zinc can cause hair loss, slow growth, and dandruff. But the amount you get from eating foods rich in zinc — such as oysters, crab, clams, liver, lean beef, most nuts and seeds, peanut butter, wheat germ, fat-free yogurt, and cheese — is plenty to keep your tresses gorgeous.

4. Beans

Soybeans, starchy beans, black-eyed peas, and lentils are great vegetarian sources of iron-rich protein for two reasons. First, protein is necessary for all cell growth, including hair cells. Hair gets its structure from hardened proteins called keratin. Without enough protein for keratin, hair grows more slowly, and the individual strands that do grow are weaker. Second, the iron found in animal foods (called heme iron), such as chicken, is more easily absorbed by the body than the iron in plant foods (non-heme iron). So if you are a vegetarian, it’s especially important to fill your plate with the most iron-rich plant foods.

Several varieties of dried beans sit in a white dish garnished with cillantro.
Soybeans, starchy beans, black-eyed peas, and lentils are great vegetarian sources of iron-rich protein. (Image: mborgm via Pixabay)

5. Sweet potatoes

Beta-carotene in foods is converted to vitamin A in the body, and vitamin A is necessary for all cell growth, including hair. A deficiency can lead to dry, dull, lifeless hair and dry skin, which can flake off into dandruff. Be aware that you can have too much of a good thing when it comes to vitamin A: Too much can cause hair loss. My advice is to add more beta-carotene-rich foods like sweet potatoes, carrots, kale, butternut squash, cantaloupe, dark green lettuces, asparagus, and pumpkin to your meals rather than take vitamin A supplements.

6. Peppers

Red, yellow, and green bell peppers are a colorful, delicious source of vitamin C, which is necessary for hair health for many reasons. Besides helping the body use non-heme iron — the type found in plant foods — to ensure that there is enough iron in red blood cells to carry oxygen to hair follicles, vitamin C is also used to form collagen, a structural fiber that helps our bodies hold everything together. Hair follicles, blood vessels, and skin all require collagen to stay healthy for optimal growth. Even minor vitamin C deficiencies can lead to dry, splitting hair that breaks easily.

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