If you’ve been envying people that have long, lustrous hair and wish you could have longer hair but it seems that it will just never get past a certain length, even by limiting damaging habits like chemical treatments and daily heat styling, all hope is not lost just yet.
There is one thing that most people don’t consider when trying to grow their hair: diet.
A nutritious, balanced diet is one of the biggest factors that impacts the health and growth rate of your hair.
Hair is mostly made up of protein, but it also needs vitamins and minerals to grow, Of course, those nutrients come directly from the food you eat, so if your diet is deficient in any of them, your hair, as well as your nails, will suffer. That’s because the body has to prioritize where its resources go, and the hair is way down the body’s list of priorities.
It provides nutrients to organs like the kidneys and liver, along with vital body functions, such as maintaining a heartbeat, way before it gets to the hair.
Vitamins For Healthier, Faster Hair Growth
It is always best to get your vitamins and minerals from food sources, so for each vitamin we list the top food sources of each. But in case getting the required amount from your diet is not possible, we also share the best supplement you can take.
Often referred to as vitamin B complex, all eight B vitamins (B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B7, B9, B12) play a large role in keeping us healthy. B vitamins affect our energy, metabolism, nerves, muscles, skin, nails, and hair. As a whole, vitamin B complex promotes cell growth and division, which is important for healthy hair growth. To make sure your body isn’t vitamin B deficient, it’s important to replenish your body’s supply daily. That’s because this type of vitamin is water-soluble, meaning the body can’t store it. Rather, whatever the body doesn’t use gets flushed out of your system through your urine.
Vitamin B12 is the most important of the B vitamins, but for best results try to include them all in your daily diet plan. Again, the best way to load up on B vitamins is through the foods you eat. Some sources include meats, eggs, nuts, grains, and vegetables. If your diet is lacking in B vitamins, though, you can take a daily supplement. Additionally, some hair care products contain B vitamins for extra support.
Niacin is another vitamin that’s in the B family but deserves its own recognition. This vitamin helps to nourish the scalp, promoting healthy hair growth. Without adequate amounts of niacin, your hair stands the chance of becoming brittle, lifeless, and may even fall out.
If you want longer, healthier hair then don’t forget about Biotin. This is quickly becoming one of the most widely used supplements for faster hair growth. While biotin is a B vitamin it plays such a key role in keeping hair healthy that it needed its own spot. This vitamin helps produce glucose and break down proteins into amino acids. Since hair itself contains keratin, which is a form of protein, this supports healthy locks.
While most people do get enough Biotin from the foods they eat each day, it is a water soluble vitamin. Again, that means your body can’t retain it and flushes what it doesn’t use. So you need to get enough of it each day or you’ll run a deficit. Many hair care products now contain Biotin. However, that doesn’t mean you should ditch biotin-rich foods or supplements. Rather, a combination of both an internal and external supply seems to work best.
Some food sources of Biotin include mushrooms, avocados, eggs, salmon, peanut butter, and more.
Most of us are aware that vitamin C can help boost our immunity, protecting us against frequent colds and other diseases. What many people don’t realize, though, is vitamin C can help strengthen hair and help it grow. That’s partly because vitamin C helps the body produce collagen, a vital protein for healthy hair, skin, and nails. Additionally, vitamin C is considered an antioxidant that fights free radicals that damage body tissue. Free radicals have been known to damage hair, making it weak and brittle. If you notice your hair breaking a lot or shedding, it may be due to vitamin C deficiency.
While you can simply take a vitamin C supplement, researchers say it’s best to load up on nutrients from whole foods. Some foods that are high in vitamin C include oranges, broccoli, kale, Brussels sprouts, papayas, strawberries, kiwi, and red bell peppers.
Along with consuming nutritious foods, there are a number of great hair care products that are infused with vitamin C.
While vitamin E is one of the most overlooked vitamins, it’s an antioxidant that repairs and builds tissue, which is essential for healthy hair growth. Along with eating vitamin E-rich foods (such as almonds, seeds, avocado, and broccoli), people are raving about the benefits they reap from its topical use. When you apply vitamin E to your scalp, it helps reduce inflammation, increases blood circulation, boosts oxygen supply, and repairs damaged hair follicles. Officials recommend massaging vitamin E oil into the hair and scalp at least twice a week to promote hair growth.
Millions of people are said to be deficient in vitamin D, including an astounding 85 percent of Americans. A deficiency has been linked to many types of health issues, including some cancers, bone loss and autoimmune disorders. As vitamin D is also important for healthy follicle growth, a deficiency can result in hair loss or the inability to grow more hair.
As our skin produces vitamin D when exposed to the sun, it’s important to get outside for at least 15 minutes every day, as well as to eat vitamin D-rich foods, like tuna, wild-caught salmon, and eggs.
Vitamin A is an essential vitamin that’s necessary for growth and development, including cell growth, as well as vision and immune function. When it comes to healthy hair, it aids in sebum production in the scalp, which is what prevents hair strands from drying out.
Beta-carotene is the most common form of vitamin A, and can be found in many dark orange fruits and vegetables, like carrots, cantaloupe, and peaches. Other good sources include sweet potatoes, spinach, and other dark leafy green vegetables.
A deficiency in the vitamin can have significant effects on the body, in addition to dry, brittle hair and a flaky scalp that slows down the growth of your locks, a vitamin A deficiency has been linked to dry eyes, an increased risk of night blindness and a higher rate of infection.
While not a vitamin, iron is an important mineral that your body needs in order to function properly. One way iron benefits the body is by strengthening hair and promoting growth. Without iron, doctors say your hair can become dull, thin, and dry. To find out if you are lacking in iron you can go for a simple blood test.
Foods that are rich in iron include red meat, oysters, and spinach.
As hair is made up of protein, ensuring you get enough of it in your diet is crucial for strong, long and healthy hair. A single strand consists of protein fiber, which means that it must receive an adequate dose of protein to grow. Without enough protein in your diet, the body won’t be able to feed your hair follicles, which results in dry, brittle and weak hair. Those who’ve eaten a very low protein diet often experience at least some hair loss.
Seafood is an excellent source, particularly fish like wild-caught salmon, as well as meats like chicken, and eggs. Don’t worry if you’re vegan or vegetarian, as you still have plenty of plant-based options, like broccoli, spinach, quinoa, and beans.
On average, human hair grows about six inches every year. Loading up on the 11 vitamins and minerals I mentioned above will help your hair reach that length. Some other things you can do to support healthy hair growth include:
- Stop using heat on your hair (hair dryers and straighteners)
- Don’t wash your hair every day
- Get regular haircuts to prevent split ends