I often see patients in my practice who want to improve the health of their hair and avoid unnecessary hair loss. A piece I often find lacking for patients is proper evaluation of their diet. Most people are unaware that an imbalanced diet can have major impact in the health and growth of their hair. And, not surprising, most experts agree that a healthy diet with the right mix of protein, iron, b vitamins, vitamin D, and other nutrients can help improve the health, look, and feel of your hair.
Genetics and health are factors in healthy hair, but proper nutrition plays a vital role. The living part of hair is under the scalp skin where the hair root is encased in the hair follicle. The follicle and root are fed by blood that carries nutrients. Any time an individual has any kind of health concern from stress, trauma, medications, or has a lifestyle that includes smoking, excess alcohol, and poor nutrition, these and more can affect the hair, its growth, and its appearance.
Generally, eating a diet that contains protein, fruits, vegetables, fat, and carbohydrates is important. Any deficiency will typically show first in the hair. Among others, the B group of vitamins are some of the most important for healthy hair, especially biotin.
When the body is under stress, it reprioritizes its processes. For example, the vital organs will be attended to first, meaning that healthy, oxygenated blood may not feed into the hair follicle, resulting in less healthy hair and a slower hair growth rate.
Scalp hair grows, on average, at a rate of about 1.25 centimeters per month. Hair growth rate also depends upon what of the 3 phases of the hair growth cycle the hair is actually in. A typical scalp has about 120,000-150,000 strands of hair, and sheds about 50 to 100 strands of them each day. Most people don’t even notice that small amount. But if an unusually large number of hairs enter the resting phase of hair growth at the same time, hair loss can become noticeable. The speed of hair growth can also vary based on genetics, gender, age, hormones, and nutrient deficiencies.
The essential omega-3 fatty acids, protein, b vitamins, and iron can all help prevent a dry scalp and dull hair color. Dark green vegetables contain high amounts of vitamins A and C, which help with production of sebum and provide a natural hair conditioner. Biotin activates certain enzymes that aid in metabolism of carbon dioxide as well as protein, fats, and carbohydrates. Nuts contain high sources of selenium, a nutrient that’s important for a healthy scalp. Alpha-linolenic acid and zinc are also found in some nuts and help condition the hair and prevent hair shedding. Protein deficiencies or low-quality protein can produce weak and brittle hair, and can eventually result in loss of hair color.
A balanced diet can give your hair all the nutrients it needs to produce healthy hair. Your hair needs the same well-rounded diet that provides all the recommended vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients needed for good health in the rest of your body.