Photo by Marta Filipczyk on Unsplash
It all begins with a hair follicle. Around 100,000 of them, to be exact. It’s literally at the bottom of each follicle that each one of your hair strands begin. It’s within the bulb of your follicles that cells divide and blood provides those cells with the vitamins and minerals they need, so that your hair is able to flourish. Yeah, hair follicles are extremely important which is why they need to be handled with extreme care and intention — this includes the foods you eat.
So, let’s dive into nutrition and your hair follicles today. I’m going to share with you eight different foods that provide eight specific nutrients that will keep your hair strong and healthy — thanks to how your follicles are able to get exactly what they need from each one of them.
1. Vitamin A: Collards
Did you know that your hair is one of the fastest growing tissues on your body? And since all of your cells need Vitamin A in order to thrive, I thought it would be a good idea to start here. One of the main benefits that this particular nutrient brings to your locks is it helps your hair follicles and scalp to produce sebum. This, in turn, keeps your hair nice and moisturized. A food that is high in Vitamin A is collard greens. In fact, if you’re looking to basically eat a “multivitamin”, any dark green vegetable has your back, thanks to all of the other vitamins and minerals that are in it. As a bonus, collards are also good for you because they contain fiber to keep you regular. Plus, they can help to lower your cholesterol levels, improve bone health (thanks to the K that’s in them), improve the health of your liver, reduce your cancer risk and, due to the choline that’s in them, collards can even help you to sleep better too.
2. Vitamin B12: Salmon
Oftentimes, when the topic of B vitamins that are good for your hair comes up, it’s biotin that’s mentioned. While that is indeed beneficial, what I’m going to shout-out today is Vitamin B12. Not only can it help to slow down premature greying, it also triggers the production of red blood cells so that your hair follicles are able to get the nutrients that they need. Salmon is high in this vitamin. It’s also rich in omega-3 (more on that in a bit) and protein (which is what your hair is made of). If you’re looking for a way to “feed your follicles” while also being able to reduce your risk of heart disease, fight inflammation, improve your brain health, lose some pounds and regulate your thyroid in the process, salmon is definitely a delicious way to do it.
3. Vitamin C: Citrus Fruit
I’m pretty sure you’ve heard of free radicals before. Still, if there’s a part of you that’s always wondered what they actually are, long story short, they’re unstable atoms that can ultimately lead to illness and aging. A nutrient that helps to keep free radicals at bay is Vitamin C. This is good to know because, since Vitamin C is such a powerful antioxidant, it’s able to protect against the kind of oxidative stress that can cause your hair to age. Vitamin C is also able to help your body to produce collagen which improves the elasticity of your hair which your follicles definitely need. Citrus fruit is loaded with this vitamin. Oranges, grapefruit, tangerines, lemons and limes are also beneficial because they’re low in calories, high in water and fiber (both can help to flush out toxins), can help to protect your brain from neurodegenerative diseases (like Alzheimer’s disease), will boost your immunity and, since they’ve got a pretty low glycemic index, citrus fruit can keep your blood sugar levels regulated as well.
4. Vitamin D: Mushrooms
If you want healthy hair follicles, Vitamin D is an absolute must because it’s a vitamin that directly attributes to the production of them. In fact, there are many studies that connect hair loss to a Vitamin D deficiency. While a very popular way to get some natural Vitamin D into your system is spending time in the sun, a food that is rich in this nutrient are mushrooms. This is really cool to know because mushrooms can also help to strengthen your bones, muscles and teeth, treat hypertension, fight depression-related symptoms, reduce the risk of breast cancer and help your body to better absorb calcium, so that you can easily receive all of these benefits.
5. Copper: Dark Chocolate
Remember how I said earlier that Vitamin B12 helps with premature greying? So does copper. It’s a mineral that is also really good for your hair follicles because it helps to stimulate them, so that they’re better equipped to receive the blood and oxygen that they need in order to remain healthy. The really wonderful thing about this particular point is a food that’s loaded with copper is dark chocolate. Some other benefits of copper include the fact that it helps your system to produce red blood cells and collagen. Copper also makes it easier for your body to absorb iron (something else that’s really great for your follicles that I’ll get into next), turns the sugar that you consume into energy, assists in keeping your nerves in top condition and, it's another nutrient that is awesome as it directly relates to keeping your immune system in peak condition.
6. Iron: Quinoa
Another nutrient that’s required if you want to avoid hair loss is iron. Iron is super beneficial as it relates to your hair follicles (and your hair overall) because it helps to increase blood circulation to your scalp so that your follicles can get the vitamins and minerals that it needs in order to thrive. Other benefits of iron include it keeps your blood in good condition, assists with the production of certain hormones, strengthens your heart, improves your muscle function and it helps to significantly reduce the risk of anemia in women. A food that’s a good source of iron is the whole grain (that’s also gluten-free) quinoa. Honestly, this particular food is one that could get its own article considering that it’s also rich in protein, dietary fiber, B vitamins, manganese, magnesium and so much more.
7. Omega-3 and Omega-6 Fatty Acids: Chia Seeds and Avocados
In an article on our site entitled, “4 Things You Should Know About Fatty Acids”, it features some of the reasons why your hair definitely needs “omegas”. Two of the reasons why I like them so much is they’re proven to improve hair’s density and diameter. Plus, they can significantly reduce hair fall by playing a role in preventing hair follicle inflammation. Some other reasons to get some omega-3s into your body is they help to maintain eye health, reduce mood swings, increase joint and bone strength, can help you to sleep more soundly and they’re effective when it comes to reducing breakouts and evening out your skin tone. Omega-6s are also good because they help to regulate your metabolism, maintain your reproductive system, boost your immunity, assist with healthy blood clothing and heal skin disorders like dermatitis. Chia seeds can get you your fill of omega-3 while avocados are loaded with omega-6.
8. Zinc: Cashews
When it comes to getting your hair follicles to flourish, zinc is the ultimate nutrient and a food that is loaded with zinc is cashews. Since zinc plays such a significant role in tissue growth and repair and because that is very important when it comes to getting your hair to grow and retain length, you need to get zinc into your system on a daily basis. While we’re here, some other health benefits of zinc are it boosts immunity, decreases inflammation, helps to keep your blood sugar levels balanced, supports a healthy heart and blood vessels and it’s great at reducing breakouts too. So, if you like to snack on nuts, think about all that you’re doing for your hair follicles, the next time you’ve got some cashews in your hand. Enjoy!
©Shellie R. Warren/2021