Is your crowning glory less than lustrous these days – or do you simply have less of it? Products and treatments are just part of the picture, says nutrition editor Amanda Ursell.
To grow plenty of good quality hair you also need to ensure the root and follicle are in good condition. This is under the control of hormone levels, blood supply and overall health – all of which are affected by what we consume.
Here are my 8 diet tips for healthier, better-looking hair:
1 Pump some iron
A gradual or sudden drop in intakes of iron is a cause of thinning hair. Good sources include fortified breakfast cereals, lean red meat, cashews, spinach and dried apricots.
2 Pack in protein
It’s crucial to eat enough protein-rich foods such as fish, chicken, dairy products, pulses, nuts and meat alternatives such as Quorn, so have some at every meal.
3 Build up your microbiome
Keeping your gut in good condition is vital. If the digestive system isn’t absorbing nutrients well, however great your diet, the goodness won’t be delivered to nourish the follicles.
4 Net some healthy oils
If you have a flaky scalp caused by dryness, or a skin condition like eczema or psoriasis, increase your intake of essential fatty acids. Find them in oily fish, nuts and seeds, especially pumpkin.
5 Copper for colour
The mineral copper helps hair stay strong and smooth and may even help your hair keep its pigment longer. Find copper in oysters, crab, sunflower seeds, walnuts, cashew nuts and almonds.
6 Iodine to keep it growing
Iodine is a trace mineral essential for keeping the thyroid gland working. A lack of iodine leads to an under-active thyroid, which in turn reduces the activity of hair follicles and slows the rate of hair growth. Find it in fish, especially haddock.
7 Think zinc
A lack of zinc causes the hair to become excessively fragile and sparse. Find it in wholemeal bread, red meat, oysters, sesame seeds and oats. Oats are among the few sources of the trace mineral silica, thought to be important for normal hair structure, along with a range of B vitamins needed for good scalp condition.
8 Seek out C
Vitamin C is needed to keep capillary walls flexible and a regular supply of nutrients flowing to the hair root and keep skin healthy. If you don’t get enough, hair follicles can become blocked with keratin, a process that forces hairs to grow in a corkscrew shape. Vitamin C also helps your body absorb iron. Find it in peppers, berries, oranges, papaya, carrots and sweet potatoes.
For more advice on healthy hair, we recommend: Hair repair or Ask the experts: Dry hair.