Thick and luscious locks aren’t just the byproduct of a rigid styling routine and premium hair products.
More and more scientific evidence is suggesting that you can eat your way to thicker, stronger, and healthier hair.
“Hair follicle cells are some of the most metabolically active and have amongst the highest cell turnover rate in the body,” says Alan J Bauman, M.D., a hair restoration physician and hair transplant surgeon at Bauman Medical Group in Boca Raton, FL.
“Restricting calories or falling short on protein, minerals, essential fatty acids and vitamins can lead to abnormalities in hair fiber structure and production, pigmentation changes as well as hair loss. If you’re deficient in the basic nutritional building blocks like protein, your body won’t produce healthy hair.”
So if you want a head-full of thick hair like Shawn Mendes, stock your kitchen with these best foods for hair health and growth as recommended by dermatologists.
The right calories and healthy fats does more than just keep your heart and muscles pumping. A January 2015 study from the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology found that omega-3 and omega-6 essential fatty acids could help reduce hair loss and improve hair growth.
“Nuts, such as almonds or walnuts, and coconut oil are natural emollients for the skin and hair follicle and also moisturize the hair shaft, leaving it glossy,” says Anna D Guanche, M.D., a board-certified dermatologist at Bella Skin Institute in Calabasas, CA.
In case you haven’t caught onto the trend – protein is important to hair health.
“Sudden weight loss, or poor diets low in protein, low in healthy fats and low in phytonutrients found in fresh vegetable and fruits can contribute to shedding and limp, unhealthy hair. Women need to get about 50 grams of protein a day,” Mary Wendel, M.D., the medical director at Medi Tresse in Boston, Massachusetts.
Salmon, herring, tuna, sardines, and other fatty fish are abundant in protein, vitamin D, omega-3 fats and other hair-boosting components (like linoleum acid, an essential fatty acid) to “nourish the skin and thicken the fat layer around the hair follicle, resulting in healthier hair growth,” Dr. Wendel adds.
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The World Health Organization says iron deficiency is the world’s most common deficiency, “affecting up to 80% of the population,” Dr. Bauman says. And of course, iron affects hair vitality, too.
“Even small changes in iron levels without the presence of anemia can trigger hair loss and thinning.”
While there are many sources of iron – red meat, leafy greens, whole grains, egg yolks – Dr. Wendel and Dr. Klein both love oysters, as they offer a one-two combo of iron and zinc. Zinc is “an essential mineral that aids in hair growth and repairs hair cycle support,” according to Dr. Klein.
A manageable 3.5-ounce serving of smoked oysters will add about 7 milligrams (mg) of iron and an eye-popping 63 mg of zinc to your diet.
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