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26 Best Foods to Promote Hair Growth


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There are some major factors that influence your hair—genetics, age, hormones, nutrient deficiencies, and more. But what you eat is one of the few things you can do to control your hair’s appearance. After all, if you are predisposed to thin, so-so hair, you wouldn’t want to make it worse by consuming the wrong foods, would you? And even if you belong in a hair commercial, you’d like to protect that look, right? That’s where picking the right healthy foods for hair growth comes in.

Before you spend yet another year shelling out loads of cash on professional treatments or products to get the glossy locks you want, consider this. Although the thickness and strength of your hair are largely hereditary, the foods you eat (or don’t get enough of) can affect the status of your hair just as much as that fancy conditioning treatment can.

By eating nutrient-rich foods that are scientifically proven to help your hair—and avoiding those that only do harm—you can influence your hair’s thickness, its growth or shedding, how shiny it is, and even its likelihood of greying. Compare the list below with what you usually have in your pantry, and use it to inform your next grocery shopping trip.

THE BEST FOODS FOR HEALTHY HAIR

Almond Butter

Almond butter contains a wide variety of nutrients—including protein, healthy fats, and certain vitamins—that have all been linked to hair health. It’s the vitamin E content in the nuts that researchers say is particularly good for keeping your locks thick and lustrous. One small eight-month trial published in the journal Tropical Life Sciences Research found participants who supplemented daily with 100 milligrams of vitamin E saw an increase in hair growth by as much as 34 percent.

Just a tablespoon of almond butter provides nearly 3.87 milligrams of Vitamin E. The recommended daily Vitamin E allowance is 15 milligrams, so almond butter will put you well on your way, especially if you eat more than one tablespoon.

Don’t like almond butter? Regular almonds will help, too. According to the NIH, almonds are one of the best dietary sources of vitamin E. An ounce of dry roasted almonds provides one-third of your DV for fat-soluble vitamin E.

Tangerines

The benefits of tangerines affect your hair in a big way. Their vitamin C content makes it easier for your body to absorb iron, which is found in foods like red meat and spinach. Iron deficiency has been linked to hair loss, according to a study published in the Journal of Korean Medical Science, so it’s important to make sure you’re getting enough of it. And vitamin C foods will only help your body absorb that iron even more.

Salmon

Salmon is a great source of omega-3 fatty acids, which have a number of health benefits.

“Omega-3’s are anti-inflammatory. They can help if you have inflammation that’s causing hair shedding,” dermatologist Dr. Carolyn Jacob told Eat This, Not That: Health, Nutrition, Weight Loss & Recipes when speaking about the best foods to prevent hair loss. Some other great sources of omega-3s include walnuts, chia seeds, and flax seeds.

In addition to helping you stay fit and disease-free, omega-3’s enable you to grow hair and keep it shiny and full. According to nutritionist Dr. Joseph Debé, CD, CDN, both male-pattern balding and female hair loss is often associated with insulin resistance. Salmon is one food that helps the body process insulin more efficiently.

Plus, salmon and other fatty fish are teeming with follicle-stimulating vitamin D. Per a study printed in The Journal of Steroid Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, vitamin D may also help stimulate hair follicles that have become dormant. In other words, there’s evidence to suggest the nutrient may help prevent thinning hair and even bald spots.

Spinach

Spinach contains a variety of nutrients and minerals that can benefit your hair, as well as your overall health.

“It’s important to make sure you don’t have a lack of something in your diet that could be leading to hair loss,” Jacob told Eat This, Not That: Health, Nutrition, Weight Loss & Recipes. “We check protein levels, iron, iron storage, vitamin D and a number of other labs to make sure you don’t have deficiencies.”

In addition to having a high iron and magnesium content, spinach can help your hair produce sebum, too.

Eggs

Eggs are packed with 10 mcg of a B vitamin called biotin, which may help hair grow and strengthen nails. Other good sources of biotin include almonds, avocados, and salmon.

Plus, eggs are a great source of vitamin D (11 percent of your DV per egg) to help your hair grow strong and shiny. According to a study that was published in the journal Stem Cells Translational Medicine, the sunshine vitamin can help create new hair follicles: little pores where new hair can grow. This, in turn, may improve the thickness of your hair or reduce the amount of hair you lose as you age.

Greek Yogurt

Ever notice what sits atop nearly every ancient Greek statue? A mop of thick, full, wavy hair. An artistic choice? Perhaps. But maybe it’s due to the thick, protein-rich yogurt that Greeks and other cultures have been eating for hundreds of years. Greek yogurt contains vitamin B5 (known as pantothenic acid), and B vitamins can help you maintain healthy skin and hair.

Oatmeal

Oats are rich in iron, fiber, zinc, omega-3 fatty acids and polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs), which stimulate hair growth, making it thick and healthy.

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