Do you want to grow stronger, healthier hair as fast as possible?
Instead of spending a fortune on hair supplements and shampoos start with a solid foundation – a hair healthy diet that provides the nutrients, vitamins, and minerals needed for your hair to grow at its maximum potential.
The foods we cover below will give you the most bang for your buck and they also have the added benefit of being good for your skin and nails too.
Certain nutritional deficiencies can impede growth and even cause hair to fall out prematurely so it’s important to know what to eat.
The nutrients we’re most interested in are protein (over 90% of your hair is made of keratin, a type of protein), essential fatty acids like Omega 3s found in fish oils, Vitamins A, C, D, and E, all the B vitamins including biotin which is sometimes referred to as Vitamin H, and trace minerals such as zinc, sulfate, iron and selenium.
These are the key nutrients that encourage hair growth, thickness, and even help stop hair loss.
So let’s get started!
The Simple Hair Growth Diet
Eat plenty of the following foods. We also suggest alternatives that you could use in their place in case of allergies or if you just can’t stand the taste. Pair combinations of the foods together for the ultimate hair healthy dish.
Good Source Of: Protein, B Vitamins. Selenium, Sulfur
Alternatives: Lean meats, poultry (like chicken for example)
Besides being one of the most complete sources of essential amino acids, eggs also contain a variety of the B-complex vitamins including pantothenic acid (aka Vitamin B5) which has been found to thicken hair follicles and increase their diameter which may be of interest if you’re experiencing thinning.
Eggs are also a good source of selenium, a trace mineral which activates an enzyme that helps your body more efficiently use antioxidants that fight free radicals and prevent inflammation – one of the hidden factors in hair loss.
Recently, the feeds given to hens have also been enhanced with omega 3s and even Vitamin D making organic, pasture raised chickens the ideal source for eggs.
Don’t be afraid to eat both the egg white and the yolk. It’s a myth that eggs aren’t good for you. In fact the yolk may be even better than the whites because some research has found that eating raw whites may make it more difficult for your body to absorb biotin – an essential nutrient for stronger hair.
Good Source Of: Iron, Vitamin A
Alternatives: Any dark leafy green vegetables, swiss chard, grass fed beef
Iron deficiency is associated with four different types of hair loss: male pattern baldness, alopecia areata, telogen effluvium, and diffuse hair loss.
It also affects women as researchers have found that when serum ferritin levels (a protein that binds to iron) falls or is below average they are more susceptible to hair loss than women with higher levels.
So why is iron so important? It helps transport oxygen and nutrients through blood cells delivering them to your scalp where it can help feed the follicles. Spinach is a great source as is grass fed beef. Spinach is also high in Vitamin A, folate, and zinc. Enjoy it raw in a salad or lightly cooked as a side dish.
Good Source Of: Vitamin E, Biotin, Lots of trace minerals
Alternatives: Walnuts, Pistachios, Brazil Nuts, Sunflower seeds if allergic to nuts
Healthy nuts like walnuts, pistachios, and especially almonds are all your friends here. Almonds are high in Vitamin E which is often overlooked compared to the heavy hitters like Vitamins A, C, and D but don’t underestimate its hair benefits. Vitamin E plays a critical role in protecting cells from oxidative and UV ray damage making it the ideal vitamin if your scalp gets a lot of sun exposure and tends to burn.
Some nuts such as walnuts also contain some Omega 3 fatty acids and other helpful nutrients like copper which helps your hair retain its shine and biotin which prevents premature hair thinning.
Add almonds to your diet as an on-the-go snack, as part of a salad, or even with your yogurt for a nutritious meal.
Good Source Of: Omega 3 fatty acids, Protein, Vitamin D
Alternatives: Sardines, Trout, Herring, Fish Oil supplements
The reason we recommend salmon is because it’s an absolutely great source of Omega 3 fatty acids.
These are healthy fats which improve your body’s inflammatory response and circulation getting more blood flow to your scalp (super helpful if you have shedding), and they also help your hair fibers maintain their natural shine by assisting the oil glands on your scalp to lubricate the cuticles.
Salmon is also high in protein and one of the best dietary sources of Vitamin D, especially if the fish was wild caught.
Good Source Of: Iron, Protein
Alternatives: Clams, Oysters, Lentils like chickpeas
Not many people think of beans as a food that promotes hair growth but thanks to their high concentration of iron (depending on the type of bean really but nearly all have at least some) and being a decent source of protein if you’re on a vegetarian diet, beans can certainly assist by minimizing breakage, and fighting off dryness.
Recall that iron is responsible for transporting nutrients through your red blood cells to the scalp and protein is the essential building block of the hair follicle. Iron deficiency can also cause thinning so make sure you’re getting enough.
Good Source Of: Vitamin A, Biotin
Alternatives: Sweet Potatoes, Pumpkin, Mangoes
Carrots are high in an antioxidant called beta-carotene which when taken with healthy fats, gets converted by your body into Vitamin A. Vitamin A can help fight dryness and a flaky scalp because it helps your scalp produce the natural oils that adds luster to your mane and reduces itchiness and irritation. Dry hair is bad because its more prone to breakage – not good if you’re trying to grow your hair out.
Carrots are also one of the best dietary sources of biotin which helps strengthen the hair fiber.
Make sure you eat carrots with a fat so you can properly ingest all its nutrients. We recommend combining it with salmon and spinach for a hair healthy meal.
If carrots aren’t your favorite you can also try sweet potatoes, pumpkins, or any food that looks really orange. This is a sign that they’re high in beta-carotene and can help your hair.
7. Greek Yogurt
Good Source Of: Vitamin B5, Protein, Vitamin D
Alternatives: Cottage cheese, other types of yogurt and similar dairy products
We love yogurt for hair because not only is it a delicious treat but it’s also high in Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid), a common ingredient found in hair products which helps thicken your hair follicles making them more resilient to breakage.
Yogurt and other dairy products are also often fortified with Vitamin D. Since most people are deficient thanks to our indoor lifestyles, you might want to add yogurt as a snack because Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to alopecia areata – a condition which causes your body’s immune system to begin attacking your hair follicles causing them to fall out in patches.
For an added boost, we recommend sprinkling some cinnamon over your yogurt because it will help increase blood flow delivering much needed nutrients to your scalp and the hair follicles. Berries are also a nice choice (as you’ll soon see why!)
Good Source Of: Vitamin E, Vitamin C, Vitamin B5
Alternatives: Olives, Broccoli
Looking for a nutritional powerhouse that’s high in healthy fats as well as three of the most important vitamins for hair growth? Look no further than avocados!
Vitamin E helps balance your scalp’s pH level which is a factor that regulates sebum production (the name for the natural oils your scalp secretes). An imbalance here could mean too much oil which can clog pores making it harder for the follicle to push and grow out.
Vitamin E has also been shown to increase the hair count in men which researchers credited to its anti-inflammatory properties reducing the effects of inflammation on the scalp.
Blend it into a smoothie or add avocado to your salad as a side dish with your main meal. Thanks to its unsaturated fats, it will also help your body absorb Vitamin A more efficiently so pair it with carrots for maximum benefits.
Good Source Of: Zinc, Selenium, Vitamin E
Alternatives: Nuts, Quinoa
Chia seeds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, and flax seed are all good and healthy choices here.
Pumpkin seeds are high in zinc with 1/4 a cup providing about 20% of your daily requirement along with a variety of other micro-nutrients.
Ingesting sesame seeds or flaxseed helps regulate DHT, the primary hormone responsible for male hair loss.
Sunflower seeds are high in Vitamin E and selenium.
Chia seeds have a decent amount of Omega 3s and iron to help stimulate extra growth. One study performed on women found that Omega 3s helped increase hair density.
We recommend eating a variety of seed types to reap all of their benefits! Eat them as a snack or add them to your yogurt to help stimulate growth.
Good Source Of: Vitamin C
Alternatives: Other types of berries like blueberries or raspberries
Last but certainly not least we have strawberries. We’ve talked about all the vitamins and minerals necessary to grow hair faster except for Vitamin C – which strawberries have in abundance!
Besides antioxidant and blood circulation benefits, Vitamin C helps your body absorb iron and produce collagen that helps capillaries in the scalp to connect to the hair shaft. The cells which do this are called the “dermal papilla cells” and they are created faster when you eat more Vitamin C helping speed up growth.
One cup of strawberries provides 113% of your minimum daily requirement. You can add it to your yogurt or enjoy it as a snack with almonds or pumpkin seeds – whatever satisfies your taste buds most!
Now that you know 10 of the best foods for growing hair, we strongly recommend reading up on our guide to growing hair faster to get more home remedies and the most effective methods for stimulating the growth of hair follicles. We go further in depth on why each nutrient mentioned here is important with links to studies and detail some other things you can try in addition to changing up your diet.
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