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The main constituent of hair is keratin, a structural protein. This is made in the hair follicle using the protein we eat, with support from a number of vitamins and minerals. Put simply, if your diet is poor, your hair follicle won’t get the building blocks it needs to make strong, healthy hair.
Which nutrients can improve hair health and why?
The most important nutrient for hair growth is protein, due to its structural role. Studies have also linked iron, zinc, selenium, Vitamin A and omega-3 deficiencies with hair loss. Healthy fats also help produce natural oils which condition the scalp.
Which foods are these nutrients found in?
Protein is abundant in many foods, and it’s rare for anyone to be protein-deficient. Meat, fish, dairy products, tofu, pulses and nuts are all great sources. Oily fish, flaxseeds and walnuts are good sources of omega-3. Lean meat or lentils are good for iron, while nuts and shellfish provide zine. Leafy greens provide beta-carotene, which is converted to Vitamin A.
What foods contribute to lifeless locks?Each hair goes through a period of growth followed by a rest phase, when the hair eventually falls out. Stressful events can push more hairs into the resting phase - this includes the stress caused by crash dieting, or a poor diet based on processed foods, sugar and alcohol.