Are you aware that your hair also needs to eat? Not that you have to feed it some food, but you also have to nourish it with the important nutrients to let it grow strong and healthy. To explain it out more clearly, Dr. Cybel Fishman, a New York City dermatologist, said that even a week of poor diet can already cause dry and sallow skin within days. The effects may not be so obvious right away, but poor nutrition has compounding effects. That is why it is only right to counter this effect by opting for healthier food options. Here are five nutrients that can help you achieve optimum hair health.
This is a water soluble vitamin that is one of the most important nutrients for hair health. It is found in small amounts in a variety of foods. There is no recommended dietary allowance for biotin, but those who promote it suggest that taking 5,000 micrograms in supplement form everyday can help strengthen your hair shafts.
Biotin deficiency is evidenced by a red scaly rash, thinning hair, exhaustion, depression and a tingling sensation felt on the arms and legs.
This nutrient is important to achieving a healthy head of hair, but there is not enough evidence to prove that it can counter hair loss. According to WebMD, there are prelimenary evidences that show that it can reduce hair loss if taken by mouth in combination with zinc. A cream that contains clobestasol propionate will also be concurrently applied to the skin.
Omega 3 Fatty Acid
You might have noticed most hair care ingredients available today are already formulated with omega-3 fatty acids. This particular nutrient may be big on heart health, but it also has a wide range of benefits for your locks.
It’s all because of the its 3 components, ALA, EPA and DHA. It is best that these three go together because our bodies cannot convert ALA into EPA and DHA. These omega-3 fatty acids improve dry and brittle hair, prevent hair loss, prevent dandruff and improve circulation to the scalp. These also improve its elasticity and the quality of the hair follicles by making it shinier, as well as help the hair grow quicker and stronger.
Since we do not produce omega-3, we need to get it from other sources, such as food or supplements. Tuna, walnuts, eggs and milk are just some of the food sources that are teeming with this particular nutrient. You can also use fish oil or krill oil supplements, which often contain healthy doses of all three fatty acids.
Aside from its brain boosting prowess, zinc is also important for hair health. In fact, insufficient levels can result in dull and thin hair, or hair loss. This is also the reason why you can see it often formulated in hair care products. It is marketed to help improve hair thickness, and takes care of the scalp at the same time. Zinc is also a vital component in maintaining hair strength because it supports healthy cell growth and development.
Fortunately, zinc is present in a number of foods, like meat, poultry, oysters, beans, nuts, crabs, whole grains and fortified cereals. You can also get it in supplement form, which often contains several forms of the nutrient, such as zinc sulfate or zinc acetate.
Women who are pregnant, lactating moms and vegetarians require more zinc daily than the average individual. The demands of a growing fetus also requires more zinc, while breastfeeding can also deplete it. Vegetarians, on the other hand, often eat legumes or whole grains. These contain phytates which binds to zinc and prevent its absorption in the body. That is why this group would need 50% more to make up for the deficiencies and losses.
Iron deficiency was singled out to be one of the root causes of hair loss. This was concluded when a group of researchers observed that hair loss patients, who have their iron stores replenished, are able to regrow hair and stop hair shedding.
It is best that you use whole foods to help you restore normal iron levels instead of giving yourself iron supplements. First of all, it is not advised to take iron supplement without consulting a doctor.Your iron level will have to be checked first by assesing the ferritin levels in the blood.
If you will be taking iron supplements, it is expected that you will experience gastrointestinal upset and constipation. You have to remember that getting your iron levels through supplements is in one way different than when you eat whole foods. Food sources for iron include red meat, fish, poultry, pumpkin seeds, peanuts, tofu and dark green leafy vegetables.
But, you should take note that having too much iron in your system can also be dangerous. According to experts, iron supplements are safe when used appropriately, but it can be harmful when used inappropriately.
This particular vitamin is produced by the body, and can only be found in a few natural food sources. Due to habits and changes in lifestyle, most of us cannot produce vitamin D the old fashion way through sunlight exposure. That is why we end up relying on fortified foods and supplements. But even if we get it through food sources, it still has to be activated. This is why it is called the sunshine vitamin because you would need sunlight to synthesize Vitamin D so that it can be used by the body.
Research shows that hair follicles contain vitamin D receptors that play an important role in the hair cycle. Consuming vitamin D3 and its analogs is found to stimulate hair growth. Experts recommend 1,000 IU of the supplement daily. The very few food sources of vitamin D include beef liver, cheese, egg yolks, fatty fish (salmon, tuna and mackerel), milk, cereals and fortified yogurt.