A healthy diet helps your whole body shine—and that includes your hair! If you want to support strong, shiny, thriving hair at any age, eating nutritious foods may help. Here are some of the best options when it comes to food for healthy hair.
What is the Best Food for Healthy Hair?
The best things to eat for hair health come down to their nutrition. Certain vitamins and minerals are especially supportive of supple, vibrant hair. So, it makes sense that eating foods rich in those nutrients can help nourish your locks.
With that in mind, below are the best foods for getting hair-healthy vitamins and minerals directly from the source. Try to get these into your diet each day.
1. Salmon and Other Fatty Fish
Fatty fish like salmon are amazing sources of omega-3 fats—which are essential fatty acids, meaning your body can’t make them and you must get them from foods.
Omega-3s affect the receptors of cell membranes and are necessary for creating hormones that regulate inflammation, blood clotting, and more. They’ve been shown to help in preventing various diseases and keeping the body healthy.
Plus, fatty fish are good sources of protein, B vitamins, and vitamin D, which support healthy hair.
If you want an omega-3 alternative to fatty fish, chia seeds and flax seeds are good plant-based sources, although the body doesn’t use them as efficiently as omega-3s from fish. The best way to get omega-3 from a non-animal source is by eating algae or taking a vegan omega-3 supplement.
2. Meats, Especially Organ Meats
Organ meats like liver, heart, and lung are especially high in iron, and so are more-palatable options like beef, turkey, and chicken. Red meat, while conversational health wise, is a particularly easy to absorb source of iron.
In addition, meats are good sources of protein, which your hair follicles are mostly made up of.
3. Beans and Lentils
If you can’t quite stomach the idea of eating organ meats—or you’re not into eating meat at all—consider a plant-based option instead.
Beans and lentils (including black beans, chickpeas, pinto beans, and red, green, or brown lentils) are good sources of iron, protein, and zinc—all of which aid in the cycle of hair growth and repair. They’re also cheap, easy to prepare, and free of dietary saturated fat and cholesterol.
Other plant-based sources of iron that support your hair include:
4. Greek Yogurt
Greek yogurt is not only a good source of protein, already making it a great food for healthy hair, it also provides vitamin B5 (also known as pantothenic acid).
Pantothenic acid is often used in hair care products and supplements to support blood flow to the scalp and help fight against thin hair.
For the healthiest option, be sure to choose Greek yogurt that’s plain and unsweetened.
5. Sunflower Seeds
Sunflower seeds are a popular healthy snack, topping for salads, and more. Plus, they make a great food for healthy hair because they contain L-lysine, an amino acid (or “protein building block”).
Sunflower seeds also contain hair-promoting nutrients like iron, zinc, B vitamins, healthy fats, and selenium.
6. Spinach and Other Dark, Leafy Greens
Leafy green vegetables are king! They should always be a main focus of any diet, as they’re packed with healthy nutrients like vitamin C, iron, vitamin A, folate, and more that your hair and whole body needs to thrive.
Vitamin A especially supports the hair, as it’s necessary for making and maintaining epithelial tissue of the hair and skin .
7. Acerola Cherries
Vitamin C is a vitamin and antioxidant that helps protect your body from free radicals that cause harmful oxidative stress. It’s also necessary for:
- Helping your body create collagen, a protein vital for healthy hair structure
- Properly absorbing the hair healthy mineral iron
In a delicious cup of red acerola cherries, you get 1,644 mg of vitamin C, which is a whopping 2740% of the recommended daily value!
Thankfully, vitamin C is not hard to come by in plant-based foods. Other vitamin C food sources include:
Just avoid having vitamin C-rich foods at the same time as coffee or tea, as these beverages can impeded vitamin C absorption.
8. Sweet Potatoes and Other Orange Plant Foods
Sweet potatoes and plant-based foods with yellow or orange pigments are high in beta carotene. Your body converts beta carotene into vitamin A—and as we saw above, vitamin A is a great nutrient for your hair.
Other beta carotene-rich foods include pumpkin, carrots, mangoes, and cantaloupe.
Avocados are low-carb, high in healthy fats and fiber, and a great source of vitamin E, which is an antioxidant that may support hair growth . They’re also rich in essential fatty acids, a deficiency of which is linked to hair loss issues .
10. Whole Grain Breads and Cereals
Many breads and cereals are enriched with hair-supporting iron, zinc, and B vitamins. If you’re concerned about not getting enough of these nutrients from your diet naturally, fortified foods can help.
However, make sure any breads or cereals you choose are truly whole grain (the first ingredient should be a whole grain) and as low as possible in sugars. Those made from sprouted grains are ideal, as well.
11. Whole Eggs
Not getting enough biotin may increase your chance of losing hair and brittle fingernails. It’s vital for producing a hair protein known as keratin.
Eggs are an excellent source of biotin, as well as protein that your hair also needs for strength and healthy growth. They’re also good sources of selenium and zinc, two other excellent minerals for healthy hair.
Vitamins and Supplements for Healthy Hair
Along with a nutritious diet containing the best food for healthy hair, certain vitamins can be taken to support vibrant locks.
Hair, skin, and nail supplements offer many of the vitamins and minerals targeted for healthy hair. Plus, they can help fill in the blanks when life gets busy and getting optimally isn’t always possible.
Disclaimer: Statements made have not been evaluated by the FDA. Products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.