You are what you eat. So, could what you’re eating (or not eating) be causing your hair loss? Let’s cut to the chase – it absolutely can. The good news is, hair loss caused by nutritional deficiencies can be controlled with diet and lifestyle improvements.
Even better – if hair loss can be onset by nutritional deficiencies, it makes sense that a balanced diet with the right nutrients promotes and maintains healthy hair growth. Put down the pizza and the beer and read on to find out the diet must-haves to grow stronger and thicker hair!
The connection between hair loss and diet
We lose around 150 hairs a day as part of the normal hair growth cycle. However, both processed foods and excessive fad diets have led to increased hair loss in young people. Sudden weight loss can also cause hair loss. Luckily, a dietary hair loss trigger is often reversible if the right corrective steps are taken.
When our bodies are lacking the right proteins, nutrients and vitamins, one of the first functions to take a back seat is hair growth. Because hair growth is not crucial to survival, our bodies may shut it down to save precious resources for the functions that keep us alive and breathing.
Reversely, when our bodies get plenty of the necessary nutrients, it helps the body build healthy cells and tissues, including healthy hair and scalp.
What to eat to stop hair loss and promote healthy hair growth
There are a few key nutrients that play an important part in healthy hair growth. The lack of these can onset excessive shedding. There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to diet and hair growth, and much of the research on the effects of specific nutrients is inconclusive, but a generally healthy diet ensures your hair has everything it needs to grow.
A balanced diet matters for other reasons than hair growth – it helps prevent chronic disease and maintain healthy functions in the body. While we always recommend eating healthy foods daily, supplements are a cheap insurance policy against nutritional deficiencies. However, nothing beats the real deal – healthy wholefoods fill you up, keep you energised and provide your body with important fibre, just to mention a few things.
Eggs are rich in a B vitamin called biotin, which helps strengthen hair and fingernails. Studies have linked biotin deficiency with poor hair and nail growth, as well as shown improvements to hair and nail conditions with biotin supplementation. However, biotin deficiency is rare, and the benefits of supplementation in healthy individuals are contested.
Including eggs in your diet ensures your body gets the biotin it needs, as well as plenty of other good stuff, such as protein and iron.
They don’t tell you to eat your greens for nothing! Green veggies are loaded with important nutrients such as folate, vitamin A and iron. However, not all green veggies are created equal – if the only green thing on your plate is iceberg lettuce, you might want to mix it up. Spinach, kale, swiss chard, brussels sprouts, bok choy, broccoli and asparagus are all highly nutritious greens that deserve a spot on your plate.
Nuts and seeds
Nuts and seeds are a good source of healthy fats and proteins, as well as a great energy source that keeps you feeling full for a long time.
Brazil nuts specifically are high in selenium, a mineral that is involved in creating hair.
Almonds and walnuts contain biotin, which, as previously mentioned, has been linked to growing strong hair and nails in some studies.
Flax seeds and chia seeds are a great source of fatty acids to help keep your scalp moisturised, and they have plenty of protein and fibre for your general wellness, too.
Oily fish is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which in turn can help keep your hair strands strong and healthy. Omega-3 fatty acids also come with multiple other health benefits, such as reducing inflammation and keeping the central nervous system (i.e. your brain) healthy. Salmon, mackerel, tuna, sardines and herring are all great sources of omega-3 fatty acids.
Hair consists of 90% protein, which is why diets lacking sufficient protein can lead to excessive hair loss. Some of the best sources of high-quality protein include eggs, chicken, lean red meat, tofu, lentils and seafood.
Meat and fish are also ideal sources of zinc, an essential trace element that must be supplied through the diet. Hair loss is a common sign of zinc deficiency.
Iron-deficiency anaemia can quickly lead to hair loss. If you suspect you might be low on iron (symptoms include fatigue, weakness, paleness, heart palpitations and more), see your GP to get a referral for a blood test.
If you’re a vegan or a vegetarian, it’s especially important to ensure your diet includes enough protein. Many vegan products these days come protein and iron-fortified, but check the packaging for details. You may need an iron supplement to get enough iron on a plant-based diet.
Fruit rich in vitamin C
Vitamin C helps the body produce collagen, a protein that is essential for building strong hair follicles and preventing breakage. It also helps the body absorb iron, which, as mentioned before, is crucial to hair health.
Berries, such as blueberries, strawberries and black currants, are a great source of vitamin C and other antioxidants. Citrus fruit and kiwi fruit also offer a high dose of vitamin C.
Finding the right solution for you
Hair loss can be caused by a number of different reasons, so the first step to treating it is getting a diagnosis. The right course of action will depend on a person’s individual health and the type of hair loss they are experiencing – there’s no one-size-fits-all.
Quite often the reasons for hair loss lie elsewhere than in your diet. It’s always best to speak with your GP to ensure there are no underlying health conditions at play.
The Gro Online Clinic offers video consultations with Australian doctors to help you tackle hair loss from the comfort of your own home. Get on the front foot with hair loss and book your consultation today.