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.
If you think you’re probably not getting all the nutrients you need, the best thing you can do is to eat a healthier diet that includes foods with these important vitamins and minerals that will help you achieve your goal of longer, stronger hair.
Top 10 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.
1. Vitamin A
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.
You may have seen biotin supplements advertised for helping one to achieve longer, healthy hair – it’s one of the most widely used supplements for growing hair faster as it plays a key role in a healthy head of hair. This B vitamin helps produce glucose and break down proteins into amino acids. As hair contains keratin, a form of protein, this naturally supports healthier hair.
Although many hair care products contain biotin, that doesn’t mean your body doesn’t need to get the nutrient from your diet. Eating foods like lentils, walnuts, dark leafy greens, wild-caught salmon and raspberries, which help you get more of this nutrient to increase the density of your hair as well as have thicker, longer hair.
3. Vitamin C
Vitamin C is famous for helping to boost the immune system, protecting us from colds and a wide variety of illnesses, but it’s also important for healthy hair. That’s because it’s the building block for collagen, a vital structural protein necessary for strong, healthy hair, as well as skin and nails. It also helps the body utilize iron from plant foods, and because it’s an antioxidant with the ability to fight off free radicals that can damage body tissue, and ultimately the hair, making it weak and brittle, a vitamin C deficiency can lead to split ends and hair loss too.
Some of the best food sources of vitamin C include the most obvious, oranges, though there are even better sources, like bell peppers, broccoli, strawberries, and pineapple.
4. Vitamin D
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.
5. Vitamin E
Vitamin E acts as an antioxidant which helps to protect cells from damage caused by free radicals. It also helps to repair and build tissue which is crucial for healthy hair growth. Not surprisingly, green leafy vegetables, which offer a wide range of powerful nutrients, are also some of the best sources of vitamin E. Other than greens, nuts, seeds and fatty fish like tuna and salmon, are also an excellent source of vitamin E. Just one quarter-cup of sunflower seeds offers 80 percent of the daily recommended value of this vitamin, while one cup of spinach provides 40 percent.
Iron is an essential mineral that is necessary for the body to function properly. If you have an iron deficiency, your hair can become thin, dry and dull because this mineral helps to carry oxygen to the roots of the hair, making it necessary for growth and the overall health of the hair. If you’re losing more hair than seems normal, incorporating iron-rich foods is one of the most important things you can do to prevent further loss and even courage hair growth.
Keep in mind that iron is absorbed differently when it comes from an animal source, such as steak, than when it comes from a plant source. Experts recommend consuming plant-based sources of iron with food that contains vitamin C for better absorption and the best results.
The best iron-rich plant foods include lentils, spinach, garbanzo beans, sesame seeds, seaweed and Swiss chard. One cup of lentils provides 37% of the recommended daily amount.
Magnesium is necessary for many different body processes. This mineral is crucial for the body to function properly, and incredibly, nearly 80 percent of Americans are said to have a deficiency in this important nutrient. Without it we can feel weak, and even age more rapidly, a lack of magnesium has been linked to diabetes, osteoporosis, high blood pressure, heart problems, constipation, depression, anxiety and chronic fatigue. Not surprisingly, it also affects the hair.
A number of studies have revealed that a deficit in this mineral will affect hair growth and encourage abnormal hair loss because the follicles need magnesium for strength. As the follicles are responsible for hair growth, a deficiency leads to hair loss, and potentially balding.
Nuts and seeds are a great source of magnesium, particularly pumpkin seeds which contain about half of the body’s needs in just a quarter cup. Other top sources include spinach, Swiss chard, and sesame seeds. Alternatively, get more magnesium topically by applying a homemade magnesium lotion or taking a magnesium rich Epsom salt bath.
Niacin, also known as Vitamin B3 or nicotinic acid, is a lesser-known vitamin that plays a big role in healthy hair growth. It helps to nourish the scalp by promoting circulation, as well as to encourage healthy hair growth. Its main function is to transform carbohydrates into energy, and it also helps to maintain the structure of the blood cells and improve blood circulation, which results in greater blood flow to the scalp, as well as more oxygen and nutrients to hair follicles.
A deficiency can cause dull, brittle hair, and even hair loss. It can also result in a number of other health issues, like nausea, diarrhea, scaly skin sores, delusions or mental confusion.
Zinc is a vital mineral for healthy hair, as well as skin and nails. It works to repair damage to cells, while also keeping the oil glands that surround follicles in tip-top shape. Some experts believe that a deficiency of this mineral can lead to deterioration of the protein structure which makes up the hair follicle. When the hair follicles are weakened, this can result in hair loss. Additionally, zinc is thought to play a key role in DNA and RNA production which is necessary for the normal division of hair follicle cells, leading to healthier hair growth.
As zinc may also play a part in keeping hormone levels balanced, it may be the reason it’s so effective in preventing hair loss. Getting enough zinc in your diet offers another bonus too: it may help eliminate that annoying dandruff.
Of all foods, oysters contain the most zinc, with more than twice the daily recommended amount in just six oysters. Other foods rich in zinc include beef and lamb, spinach, pumpkin seeds, and cashews.
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. In fact, one-half cup of beans contains as much protein as an ounce of steak. Hemp seeds considered one of nature’s most perfect foods, is packed with protein yet it’s more digestible than meat, eggs, and many other popular high-protein choices.