We include products we think will be useful to our readers. Many people want strong and healthy hair especially as they age.
Interestingly your hair grows about 0.5 inches (1.25 cm) per month and 6 inches (15 cm) per year. How fast it grows depends on factors such as age health genetics and diet.
While you can’t change factors like age and genetics diet is one thing you can control. In fact a diet lacking the right nutrients can lead to hair loss.
On the other hand a balanced diet with the right nutrition can help promote hair growth especially when you lose hair due to malnutrition.
Here are the 14 best foods for hair growth.
Eggs are a great source of protein and biotin two nutrients that promote hair growth.
Adequate protein intake is important for hair growth because hair follicles are mainly composed of protein. A lack of protein in the diet has been shown to promote hair loss.
Biotin is essential for the production of a hair protein called keratin which is why biotin supplements are often marketed for hair growth. Research has also shown that consuming more biotin can help improve hair growth in people who are deficient in biotin.
However biotin deficiency is less common if you eat a balanced diet. There is little evidence that healthy people can benefit from consuming more biotin.
Eggs are also a great source of zinc selenium and other nutrients for hair health. This makes them one of the best hair health foods.
Berries are rich in beneficial compounds and vitamins that promote hair growth.
This includes vitamin C which has strong antioxidant properties.
Antioxidants can help protect hair follicles from damage by harmful molecules called free radicals. These molecules are naturally present in the human body and in the environment.
For example 1 cup (144 grams) of strawberries provides an impressive 141% of your daily vitamin C requirement.
Additionally the body uses vitamin C to produce collagen a protein that helps strengthen hair and prevents it from becoming brittle and breaking.
What’s more vitamin C helps the body absorb iron from the diet. Low iron levels can lead to anemia which is associated with hair loss.
Spinach is a healthy green vegetable rich in beneficial nutrients like iron folate and vitamins A and C all of which promote hair growth.
Vitamin A helps skin glands produce sebum. This oily substance helps to moisturize the scalp and keep hair healthy.
One cup (30 grams) of spinach provides up to 54% of your daily vitamin A requirement.
Spinach is also a good plant-based source of iron which is essential for hair growth. Iron helps red blood cells carry oxygen throughout the body boosts metabolism and aids in growth and repair.
What’s more iron deficiency has been linked to hair loss.
4. Fatty Fish
Fatty fish such as salmon herring and mackerel contain nutrients that can promote hair growth.
They are an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids associated with hair growth.
A study in 120 women found that taking a supplement containing omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids and antioxidants reduced hair loss and increased hair density.
Another study found that taking fish oil supplements significantly reduced hair loss and increased hair growth in women with thinning hair.
However there are few studies on omega-3 fatty acids and hair growth. More research is needed before health experts can make any recommendations.
Fatty fish is also a great source of protein selenium vitamin D3 and vitamin B nutrients that help promote strong and healthy hair.
5. Sweet Potatoes
Sweet potatoes are a great source of beta-carotene. The body converts this compound into vitamin A which is linked to good hair health.
One medium-sized sweet potato (about 114 grams) contains enough beta-carotene to provide more than four times your daily vitamin A requirement.
Research shows that vitamin A promotes sebum production which helps keep hair healthy.
What’s more vitamin A also speeds up hair growth and promotes the growth of thicker hair while preventing other follicles from degenerating.
Avocados are delicious nutritious and a great source of healthy fats.
They are also an excellent source of vitamin E which promotes hair growth. A medium-sized avocado (about 200 grams) provides 21% of your daily vitamin E requirement.
Like vitamin C vitamin E is an antioxidant that helps fight oxidative stress by neutralizing free radicals.
In one study people with hair loss experienced a 34.5% increase in hair growth after taking vitamin E supplements for 8 months.
Vitamin E also protects skin areas like the scalp from oxidative stress and damage. Damaged skin on the scalp can lead to poor hair quality and fewer hair follicles.
What’s more avocados are a great source of essential fatty acids. These fats cannot be produced by the body but they are an important part of cells. Deficiencies of essential fatty acids are associated with hair loss.
Nuts are delicious and convenient and contain a variety of nutrients that can promote hair growth.
For example one ounce (28 grams) of almonds provides an impressive 37% of your daily vitamin E requirement.
In addition they provide various B vitamins zinc and essential fatty acids. Deficiencies in any of these nutrients have been linked to hair loss.
In addition to hair growth nuts have been linked to a variety of other health benefits including reduced inflammation and a lower risk of heart disease.
This makes nuts an excellent and easy addition to your diet.
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Seeds provide a lot of nutrients in relatively few calories. Many of these nutrients may also promote hair growth. These include vitamin E zinc and selenium.
One ounce (28 grams) of sunflower seeds provides nearly 50 percent of your daily vitamin E requirement as well as many hair-friendly B vitamins.
What’s more certain seeds like flax and chia also provide omega-3 fatty acids.
A 1-ounce (28-gram) serving of flaxseeds provides 6,388 mg of omega-3 fatty acids. That’s more omega-3 fatty acids than half a salmon fillet (178 grams).
However flaxseeds provide an omega-3 fatty acid that the body does not use as efficiently as the omega-3s found in fatty fish. Nonetheless it is a great addition to the diet.
For the widest range of nutrients it is best to consume mixed seeds.
9. Sweet Peppers
Bell peppers are an excellent source of vitamin C which can help with hair growth.
In fact a single yellow pepper provides almost 5.5 times as much vitamin C as an orange.
Vitamin C helps strengthen your hair by helping to boost collagen production. It is also a strong antioxidant that protects hair strands from oxidative stress.
Oxidative stress occurs when free radicals overwhelm the body’s antioxidant defense system. It is associated with hair loss and graying of hair.
What’s more bell peppers are also an excellent source of vitamin A.
This vitamin may help speed hair growth while stimulating sebum production which helps keep hair healthy.
Oysters are one of the best food sources of zinc.
Zinc is a mineral that helps support the hair growth and repair cycle.
Lack of zinc in the diet may promote telogen effluvium a common but reversible form of hair loss caused by a lack of nutrients in the diet.
Studies have shown that taking zinc supplements can reverse hair loss caused by zinc deficiency.
However consuming too much zinc can also promote hair loss. That’s why getting zinc from foods like oysters may be better than taking supplements because foods provide zinc in small but healthy doses.
Shrimp is a popular shellfish that is rich in several nutrients and has the potential to promote hair growth.
For example shrimp is a great source of protein B vitamins zinc iron and vitamin D. A 3.5-ounce (100-gram) serving of shrimp provides 38% of your daily vitamin D requirement.
Interesting research has linked vitamin D3 deficiency to hair loss.
Although shrimp is very low in fat it also provides small amounts of omega-3 fatty acids. A diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids has been linked to improved hair growth.
Beans are a good source of plant-based protein which is essential for hair growth.
Like oysters beans are a good source of zinc which aids in the hair growth and repair cycle. A 3.5-ounce (100-gram) serving of black beans provides 7% of your daily zinc needs.
They also provide many other nutrients that benefit hair health including iron biotin and folic acid.
In addition to all these benefits beans are versatile and inexpensive making them easy to add to your diet.
Research shows that compounds in soy can promote hair growth. One of these compounds is spermidine which is abundant in soybeans.
For example a study of 100 healthy people found that spermidine-based nutritional supplements extended the active growth phase of hair called the anagen. The longer a hair follicle stays in the anagen phase the longer it takes to grow.
Test-tube studies have also shown that spermidine promotes human hair growth.
However the research on spermidine and hair growth is fairly new so more research is needed before health experts can make recommendations on spermidine intake.
Meat is a staple food for many people and is rich in nutrients that help with hair growth.
The protein in meat aids growth and helps repair and strengthen hair follicles. A 3.5-ounce (100-gram) serving of cooked sirloin steak provides up to 29 grams of protein.
Red meat in particular is rich in an easily absorbed form of iron. This mineral helps red blood cells carry oxygen to all cells in the body including hair follicles.
Deficiencies of protein and iron have been linked to hair loss.
The Bottom Line
What you eat can have a huge impact on the health of your hair.
Lack of the right nutrients including vitamins A C D and E zinc B vitamins iron biotin protein and essential fatty acids may slow hair growth and even cause hair loss.
Fortunately correcting deficiencies in any of these nutrients may help treat hair loss and promote faster hair growth.
If you think you’re deficient in any of these nutrients try adding some of the above foods to your diet.