Lots of us strive for strong, healthy, shiny hair, but did you know that there are some foods that encourage hair growth?
Hair grows at around the rate of 1.25cm per month, and 15cm per year, but this growth rate can be affected by various factors, such as genetics, age, health and diet.
Poor nutrition can lead to hair loss, but eating a balanced, nutrient rich diet can help your hair to grow – here’s 14 of the best foods for hair growth:
Eggs contain protein and biotin, two substances that could help hair to grow.
A lack of protein in the diet has been shown to promote hair loss, so eating plenty of protein is important to help your hair grow. Biotin is important for production of a hair protein called keratin.
Eggs are also good sources of zinc, selenium and other nutrients that encourage healthy hair.
Berries are full of vitamins and phytonutrients that may help with hair growth. The vitamins include vitamin C, which has antioxidant properties. Antioxidants can protect the hair follicles from damage by free radicals.
Strawberries are rich in vitamin C, which aids collagen production. Collagen is a protein that helps to strengthen hair and stop it becoming brittle.
Spinach is very nutrient-dense, and contains folate, iron, vitamin A and vitamin C. These substances can help promote hair growth.
Spinach is a good source of iron, which helps red blood cells carry oxygen through the body to aid growth and repair. Iron deficiencies have been linked to hair loss, so it’s essential to get enough.
4. Omega-3 Rich Fish
Salmon, herring and mackerel are classed as oily fish, as they are a great source of omega-3 fatty acids. This good fat has been linked to hair growth, as well as being heart-healthy.
One study of 120 women found that taking an omega-3 and omega-6 supplement as well as antioxidants helped to reduce hair loss and increased their hair density.
5. Sweet Potatoes
Sweet potatoes are a good source of beta-carotene, which the body converts into vitamin A. Research has shown that vitamin A helps with the production of sebum, which is used to keep hair healthy. Vitamin A could also speed up the rate of hair growth, and make it thicker too.
Avocados have many health benefits, and they are also a source of vitamin E, which has been linked to hair growth. Vitamin E is an antioxidant that helps to neutralize damaging free radicals.
Vitamin E also helps to protect the scalp from oxidative stress and damage. A damaged scalp can be responsible for poor hair quality and growth.
Avocados, like oily fish, are a good source of essential fatty acids that we need, but can’t produce ourselves. These essential fatty acids seem to be key in promoting hair growth.
Nuts are a convenient snack or addition to yogurt, and they have a range of nutrients that could encourage hair growth.
Just like avocados, nuts are full of hair-healthy vitamin E – an ounce of almonds provides 37% of your daily vitamin E requirements.
Nuts are also full of B vitamins, zinc and essential fatty acids, and have been linked to other health benefits such as a lower risk of heart disease.
Seeds are incredibly nutritious for their size, and have relatively few calories. Their nutrients include vitamin E, zinc and selenium.
Just an ounce of sunflower seeds gives you nearly 50% of your daily vitamin E recommendation, and they also contain B vitamins.
Some seeds, like flaxseeds and chia seeds also provide omega-3 fatty acids.
9. Sweet Peppers
Sweet peppers are a great source of vitamin C, with just one yellow pepper providing nearly 5.5 times as much vitamin C as an orange!
Vitamin C helps in collagen production, which can help strengthen your hair, and it is also a powerful antioxidant.
Sweet peppers are also full of vitamin A, which can make your hair grow faster while stimulating the production of hair-helping sebum.
Oysters are a great source of zinc, which helps to support hair growth and repair. There is a form of hair loss called telogen effluvium that could be caused by lack of zinc and other nutrients. Thankfully, this condition is fully reversible by taking a zinc supplement.
It may be better to get your zinc from foods like oysters, rather than a supplement, as too much zinc can also cause hair loss.
Shrimp are a popular and tasty shellfish that are rich in nutrients that are good for hair.
They are a good source of protein, zinc, B vitamins, iron and vitamin D. Shrimp are low in fat, but still contain a small amount of omega-3 fatty acids, which have been linked to improved hair growth.
Beans are a good plant-based provider of protein, which we need for hair growth. They are also a source of zinc, which repairs hair and promotes growth.
Beans are a great addition to soups and stews, or as a side dish.
Soybeans may promote hair growth, according to studies. One of the compounds in soybeans is spermidine, and a study of 100 healthy people found that a spermidine-based supplement prolonged the active phase of hair growth.
This research area hasn’t been well covered as yet, so more studies are needed before recommendations can be made.
The protein in meat helps repair and strengthen hair follicles, and red meat in particular is rich in a type of iron that’s easy for the body to absorb. Iron helps the red blood cells deliver oxygen to all parts of your body, including your hair follicles.