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Nutrients for Healthy, Strong Hair

By Lauren MacDonald

There are hundreds of beauty products that claim to do magnificent things to your hair– make it shine, reduce frizz, keep it healthy–but the best way to get that commercially, salon-envy hair is through nutrients, and you don’t necessarily need to use a beauty product to get it.

A lot of the nutrients that will make your hair healthy are also beneficial to your overall health. So not only will you reap the benefits of healthy hair by introducing essential nutrients into your diet, you’ll generally feel better and in some cases, reduce the risk of several diseases. Get gorgeous hair now with these ten nutrients for healthy, shiny, strong hair…

1. Vitamin D

As if you need another reason to get outside and enjoy the sun! Vitamin D is a well-known nutrient that activates hair growth. Though ideally you would love to have the time to sit outside and soak up the rays every day, it’s not necessarily practical (and you’d need to layer up on sunscreen to prevent harmful UV rays from damaging your skin). Instead, you can take a daily vitamin D supplement of 1,000-mg to reap the benefits and get shiny locks in the process.

2. Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Omega-3 is not something our body can naturally produce and so you need to get this healthy fat through your diet. Trust me, the health benefits of these fatty acids are endless. Not only can they lower the risk of heart disease and reduce inflammation— eating foods high in omega-3s can rehydrate your hair, making it super silky. Eat foods like salmon, tuna, and halibut twice a week to see results. Nut oils also contain Omega-3 fatty acids. Or, take up to 1 gram of a DHA and EPA (fish oil) supplement a day.

3. Iron

Iron is essential for your body to produce healthy oxygen-carrying red blood cells. Without enough iron, you may become anemic, causing constantly fatigue and low energy. When it comes to your hair, iron contributes to making it healthy and shiny. Iron can be found in red meat, dark green leafy vegetables, and dried beans. If you aren’t getting enough iron, it can actually cause hair loss and dry scalp.

4. Protein

It’s fitting that eating protein is good for your hair because hair itself is made up of protein. The protein you eat promotes cell growth and repair, including making your hair strong, which is necessary for overall hair health. There’s nothing worse than dry and brittle hair—it looks dull and you get tons of flyaways from it constantly breaking. Aside from white meat and fish, eggs, legumes, and nuts are a good source of the type of protein that you should get every day.

5. Vitamin E

While soaking up the sun can be good for your hair, it’s best to balance and protect it with vitamin E to prevent your hair from drying out. Vitamin E nourishes damaged hair, increases circulation to your scalp, and strengthens your hair to prevent breakage, reducing your fly-aways and giving locks an overall healthy look and feel. Foods that are rich in vitamin E, such as nuts and avocados, are a good way to get what you need. You can even cut open a vitamin E gel capsule and rub the gel directly on your strands.

6. Zinc

Your body doesn’t have a natural way to store zinc, which is why it’s important to make sure you eat it every day. Zinc plays an integral role in fighting off illnesses and it promotes healthy cell growth and development. When it comes to your hair, zinc nourishes the cells of the hair follicle. When you don’t get enough, hair loss, early graying, and dull-looking strands will result. Zinc can be found in a lot of everyday food items, including green vegetables, red meat, poultry, oysters, beans, whole grains, and dairy products.

7. Vitamin A

Vitamin A is yet another vitamin that’s good for your hair. It keeps hair shiny and moisturized, and encourages the growth of new hair. Vitamin A also makes your scalp healthy, which is the foundation of overall hair health. Vitamin A is full of antioxidants to keep your hair strong, lighter feeling, and creating that enviable body. Add foods like fish, dairy products, and dark green and yellow vegetables and fruits to your diet to get vitamin A. If you still don’t consume the recommended daily dose via diet, take a vitamin A supplement.

8. Vitamin C

Vitamin C increases collagen production, making hair stronger and preventing breakage. It’s important to get this vitamin as you age as your natural collagen production will decrease as you get older. It even helps your body absorb iron, another essential key to healthy, strong hair. As an added bonus, vitamin C also does wonders for your skin by reducing wrinkles. You can easily get the recommended daily dose by eating citrus fruits, broccoli, strawberries, sweet potatoes, and red peppers.

9. Biotin

Biotin is the key to achieving glossy and silky hair, and promoting hair growth. You may already be treating your hair with it daily as it’s a common ingredient found in store-bought shampoos and conditioners. It’s rare to have a biotin deficiency because your body naturally produces it when you have a healthy, balanced diet. Foods that are high in biotin include egg yolks, cauliflower, bananas, salmon, and mushrooms. It’s not necessary to take a biotin supplement. Just eat a healthy, balanced and include foods in your diet that contain biotin.

10. Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM)

Methylsulfonylmethane (or MSM) is an organic sulfur compound that’s becoming increasingly recognized as vital to overall health. It increases your body’s production of antioxidants and plays a vital role in bone health. For hair, MSM produces collagen and keratin, and increases your hair growth phase—meaning your hair will grow longer before it sheds. You can find MSM in a lot of foods, including broccoli, kale, cabbage, bok choy, fish, poultry, and legumes. Raw vegetables have a higher MSM content because boiling and heating causes them to lose some of the nutrient.

Lauren MacDonald


Lauren is a freelance writer with experience researching and writing about a wide range of topics, from healthy living and exercise to environmental trends and advocacy. She is a huge yoga enthusiast and has a love of healthy cooking.

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