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Foods That Promote Healthy Hair

10 min read

By Katherine George

Medically Reviewed by Julie Ching, MS, RDN, CDE

Healthy hair is one major indication of overall physical wellbeing. It can take years to grow hair to a long length, and the quality of our hair is often a reflection of the lifestyle we live. It is estimated that hair grows between 1/4- and 1/2-inch per month, but for many people, it can be a major challenge to grow their hair or even improve the quality of hair. If you’re one of these people, not to worry! There are foods that can help.

As with many other health-related things, what we eat and how we take care of our bodies is reflected in our hair. So, enjoying a healthy diet will no doubt do wonders for us. Staying hydrated and eating whole, nutritious foods can make a big difference in not only how fast our hair grows, but also the strength of it, and what it looks and feels like.

Here’s a long list of some foods that promote healthy hair!

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Fatty Fish like Salmon

Like many of the other foods on this list, there are many, many reasons to eat more fish, particularly fatty fish like salmon. This is because it contains tons of healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Our bodies aren’t able to make these fatty acids on their own, so we must get them through food, like salmon.

There are so many health benefits that come from omega-3’s and one of them is that they promote healthy hair that is shiny and full, says WebMD. It can be said that healthy hair comes from the scalp, and this nutrient helps balance the oils in your body, reducing flakiness and itching on the scalp. If you’re not a fan of salmon, try eating sardines, trout, mackerel, or flaxseeds which are also high in omega-3’s.


A protein deficiency can lead to massive hair loss. This is because a lack of protein causes the hair to “rest” which essentially means it stops growing. Hair that has gone into a state of “rest” is bad because it will stop growing, older hairs will fall out, all of which contributes to hair loss, says WebMD.

It can take months for the damage to reveal itself, and it will take even longer for hair to grow back. Eating enough protein every day is very important to the quality of your hair. Chicken breast is a low fat high protein option that will keep your hair in its best shape.

Brazil Nuts

Brazil nuts are jam packed with selenium, a mineral that is important in almost every aspect of the human body. You can naturally get selenium through the soil found on vegetables, but many people find themselves deficient.

To get plenty of selenium, try eating more brazil nuts. One brazil nut holds your entire daily recommended dose, but eating more won’t make your hair grow faster. Selenium toxicity can occur by regularly eating more than 400-mg per day, or more than six brazil nuts.


Spinach is one of several dark, green leafy vegetables that pack a ton of nutrients and vitamins. When it comes to healthy hair, spinach offers vitamin A, iron, beta carotene, folate, and vitamin C. All of these vitamins and nutrients work together to regulate the oil production on our scalp and strengthen our hair.

According to WebMD, spinach is particularly good for people with weak and brittle hair. The source notes that spinach keeps the hair nice and moisturized so that it doesn’t break. If you’re not a huge fan of spinach, try kale instead (it offers similar benefits).


Walnuts are amazingly high in vitamin E which has been shown to help hair grow faster. In fact, some studies have shown vitamin E supplements are a viable treatment for male pattern balding.

In addition to their vitamin E content, Prevention notes that nuts are also high in omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids which also reduce hair loss and improve growth. “Nuts, such as almonds or walnuts, and coconut oil are natural emollients for the skin and hair follicle and also moisturize the hair shaft, leaving it glossy,” says Anna D Guanche, MD, a board-certified dermatologist at Bella Skin Institute in Calabasas, California when talking to the source.


Eggs are another amazing food for the amount of protein they contain. Start your day off with a high protein meal by scrambling up some eggs. Not only will they provide lots of energy to get through the day, but they have some beautifying benefits too! “They’re rich in a B vitamin called biotin that helps hair grow. Not having enough of this vitamin can lead to hair loss. Biotin also helps strengthen brittle fingernails,” explains WebMD.

You can even create a DIY hair mask with eggs. Make the mask with eggs by massaging a whole egg into wet hair. Let it sit for 10 minutes and rinse. The egg whites will coat each strand of hair with protein, and the egg yolk will keep your hair shiny all day.


Lamb is high in both zinc and iron. Zinc is a great antioxidant and can help keep you from getting sick. Lamb is also an amazing source of protein and fats, both of which aid in keeping hair healthy.

In addition to the zinc, iron and protein, lamb is also naturally high in B12 vitamins. B12 has the ability to make a big difference in how fast your hair grows, and a deficiency in this vitamin can cause extreme hair loss. Enjoy this food knowing that it will be helping your hair in more ways than one.


There are so many amazing health benefits that come from eating berries. They are among the best fruits for us to eat, and in my opinion, the most tasty! When it comes to our hair, berries contain lots of vitamin C which contains lots of antioxidants that “…can help protect hair follicles against damage from harmful molecules called free radicals. These molecules exist naturally in the body and the environment,” writes Healthline.

So what is it about vitamin C that promotes healthy hair? Healthline explains that “the body uses vitamin C to produce collagen, a protein that helps strengthen hair to prevent it from becoming brittle and breaking.” The source also goes on to explain that vitamin C helps the body absorb iron and low iron can lead to hair loss.


While hair loss is commonly associated with men, it can happen to women too. It’s a problem for both genders and it’s one that can sometimes be easily reversed, particularly if it’s due to an iron deficiency. “It’s easy for women to run low on iron because of their monthly cycle,” says Whitney Bowe, MD, a board-certified dermatologist based in New York City to Prevention. When a patient starts showing signs of hair loss, an iron deficiency is one of the first things Bowe tests for.

Even though clams and oysters are one of the most commonly known high sources of iron, beans are also high in iron and a lot more realistic when it comes to an everyday food. Prevention suggests eating about 1-cup of white beans every day in order to get the adequate amount of iron.


Avocados have become super popular as of recently and for good reason! They boast some pretty incredible health benefits due to their nutrients and the fact that they contain lots of healthy fats. For the sake of this article, we’re going to focus on their high level of vitamin E which promotes hair growth. Healthline points out that one medium avocado contains about 21-percent of a person’s daily recommended vitamin E intake.

To back this claim up, Healthine refers to a study published in the Life Sciences journal which found that people who suffer from hair loss were able to increase hair growth by 34.5-percent after taking a vitamin E supplement.

In addition to improve hair growth, the source notes that vitamin E can protect the scalp from “oxidative stress and damage. Damaged skin on the scalp can result in poor hair quality and fewer hair follicles,” writes the source.

Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes are a healthier option the regular, starchy potatoes and that’s because of their beta-carotene. “The body converts this compound into vitamin A, which is linked to good hair health,” writes Healthline. In fact, one of it’s biggest benefits is that it can add some shine to your hair and keep it from drying out. “[Beta carotene] protects against dry, dull hair. It also encourages the glands in your scalp to make an oily fluid called sebum that keeps hair from drying out,” explains WebMD.

The source also notes that 1-medium potato has four times the amount of vitamin A that a person needs per day and there is some evidence that vitamin A can speed up the rate of hair growth, increase thickness, and prevent hair follicles from regressing.


Shrimp are a popular party or cocktail appetizer because they are delicious and easy to eat! Not only that, but turns out they can be quite healthy too. This shellfish is rich in nutrients that promote good hair growth. For example, Healthline points out that shrimp are high in protein, B vitamins, zinc, iron, and vitamin D. In fact, 3.5-ounces of shrimp provides 38-percent of our daily recommended amount of vitamin D. Why is this important? Well, studies have shown that a vitamin D3 deficiency leads to hair loss.

In addition to its vitamin D content, shrimp also contain a small amount of omega-3 fatty acids which have been linked to improved hair growth.

Sweet Peppers

Sweet, sweet peppers. These colorful vegetables contain lots of vitamin C which we’ve already mentioned is good for hair growth. Even though we’ve always touted oranges as the best source of vitamin C, Healthline points out that one yellow pepper provides over five times more vitamin C than an orange! “Vitamin C helps promote collagen production, which can help strengthen your hair strands. It’s also a strong antioxidant, which can protect hair strands against oxidative stress,” writes the source. “Oxidative stress occurs when free radicals overwhelm the body’s antioxidant defense system. It has been linked to hair loss and the graying of hair.”

Sweet peppers also contain lots of vitamin A which helps speed up hair growth and stimulate the scalps production of sebum, keeping our hair moisturized and healthy.


The nice thing about seeds is that although they come in a small package, they deliver tons of nutrients and do it at a low cost when it comes to calories. For the most part they contain few calories. Some of their best nutrients for hair growth are vitamin E, zinc, and selenium. Healthline explains that 1-ounce of sunflower seeds provides 50-percent of the daily recommended amount of vitamin E and they also include lots of B vitamins that encourage healthy hair! Other helpful seeds are flaxseeds and chia seeds which contain lots of omega-3 fatty acids.

One of the best seeds to eat to improve hair health is pumpkin seeds. Prevention points out that 1-ounce of whole, roasted pumpkin seeds (which is about ½-cup) provides 19-percent of our daily recommended amount of zinc, a mineral that protects us from dry scalp, says Rebecca Kazin, MD, assistant professor of dermatology at Johns Hopkins University. You can easily add pumpkin seeds to any dish like yogurt or cereal, or just eat them on their own!


Oysters are definitely an acquired taste. People tend to either love them or hate them. If you’re the latter, you might want to reconsider because oysters are loaded with zinc which means they encourage the growth of full, healthy hair. Zinc is an important mineral to include in our diet because without it our body would experience hair loss, even in our eyelashes! “Cells that build hair rely on zinc to help them work their hardest,” writes WebMD, and Prevention points out that zinc aids in hair growth and supports the repair cycle. Don’t like oysters? Don’t fret. You can also get zinc from beef, crab, lobster, and fortified cereal.

Prevention also points out that in addition to being high in zinc, oysters also provide lots of iron. “The World Health Organization ranks iron deficiency as the world’s most common deficiencies, affecting up to 80-percent of the population,” says Alan J Bauman, MD, a hair restoration physician and hair transplant surgeon at Bauman Medical Group in Boca Raton, Florida. “Even small changes in iron levels without the presence of anemia can trigger diffuse hair loss and hair thinning.”


Soybeans aren’t all that popular, especially compared to some of the other foods on this list, but they are just as healthy, particularly when it comes to our hair! Healthline states that studies have shown “compounds in soybeans may promote hair growth. One of these compounds is spermidine, which is abundant in soybeans.”

There is plenty of evidence to back these claims up. Healthline refers to some test-tube studies that have looked at spermidine’s involvement in promoting hair growth, and one other study in particular that found “a spermidine-based nutritional supplement prolonged a phase of active hair growth called the anagen phase. The longer the hair follicle stays in the anagen phase, the longer it will grow.”

Greek Yogurt

Greek yogurt can be super healthy as it’s got some healthy probiotics that are good for the gut and usually contains a decent serving of protein which is good for our hair. WebMD points out that greek yogurt has a specific ingredient, vitamin B5 (also known as pantothenic acid) that helps increase blood flow to the scalp which encourages hair growth. This vitamin can also protect us from hair thinning and loss.

Our biggest piece of advice when it comes to yogurt is to just be mindful of the added ingredients. Typically the brands with added flavor or fruit come with extra sugar, so the best option is to buy plain greek yogurt, and sweeten it up on your own with a dab of honey or fresh fruit.

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Julie Ching is a Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator in Los Angeles. She decided to become a Dietitian after traveling through Europe, South America, and Asia and discovered a passion for food. She now works with people of all ages and varying disease states to improve their health. She is passionate about teaching people about nutrition so they can live their best life while still considering their cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds.

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