Is your hair feeling dry from spending too much time in the sun? Or is humid weather making your scalp greasy and your style unmanageable?
Sun exposure, swimming, sweat, and styling do a number on your locks, leaving them limp, dry, frizzy, faded, and dull.
What can you do to ensure great looking hair that stays healthy through the hottest season? Not surprisingly, like the rest of your body, beautiful, healthy hair starts from the inside out!
Because the keratin-composed shaft is technically “dead,” rather than topical treatments, the best way to get shiny, lustrous locks is to eat a healthy diet rich in these 8 nutrients:
Since hair is made of a protein called keratin, to have strong, healthy hair, you need to eat good quality protein. Choose lean sources like chicken, turkey, fish, low or nonfat dairy, and eggs, and don’t forget vegetarian protein sources like legumes (beans) and nuts. Being deficient in protein can result in dry, brittle, weak hair prone to breakage.
The hair follicle receives its nutrients from our bloodstream, but when iron levels are low (like with anemia), the hair growth cycle is affected and may result in hair loss. While red meat is high in iron, you can also get iron from healthier sources like chicken, fish, and lentils, as well as leafy greens like kale, broccoli, and spinach.
In order for your body to absorb iron, you need vitamin C. It’s also an antioxidant and helps produce collagen, which strengthens the capillaries that bring blood to the hair follicle. Fruits are an excellent source of vitamin C, especially berries, citrus fruits, and tropical fruits like papayas, kiwi, and guava. Also high in vitamin C are vegetables like broccoli and sweet potatoes.
Sebum conditions the scalp and hair, and to make sebum, our body needs vitamin A. Vitamin A can be found in liver, fish, dairy products, eggs, leafy green vegetables, orange and yellow fruits and vegetables like cantaloupes or squash, and tomatoes.
A potent antioxidant, vitamin E helps protect hair from sun damage. Good sources of vitamin E are like leafy greens like spinach, kale, Swiss chard, mustard greens, and broccoli, nuts like sunflower seeds and almonds, and avocados.
A water-soluble B vitamin, biotin prevents brittle hair and hair loss. Biotin-rich foods include liver, egg yolks, Swiss chard, carrots, strawberries, raspberries, almonds, and walnuts.
Omega-3 fatty acids are present in scalp cells and are also used in producing the oils that prevent dry scalp and hair. Because our bodies cannot make omega-3 fatty acids, we need to supplement our diet with oily fish like salmon, mackerel, sardines, trout, and herring, or foods like avocado, flaxseed, and walnuts.
Too little zinc can lead to a dry, flaky scalp and hair loss. Good sources of zinc include lean meats, low or nonfat dairy products, and nuts and legumes like cashews, almonds, lentils, chickpeas, and kidney beans.
With beautiful, healthy hair, you’ll feel confident and attractive whether you’re hiking, biking, swimming, or dancing at a wedding. You’ll have no-stress tresses in no time at all!
David H. Rahm, M.D. is the founder and medical director of The Wellness Center, a medical clinic located in Long Beach, CA. Dr. Rahm is also president and medical director of VitaMedica. Dr. Rahm is one of a select group of conventional medical doctors who have education and expertise in functional medicine and nutritional science. Over the past 20 years, Dr. Rahm has published articles in the plastic surgery literature and educated physicians about the importance of good peri-operative nutrition.