Who doesn’t want stronger, healthier hair? Whether your hair is dull and lifeless, or it seems to be clogging up your drain more than usual, what you do – or do not – put in your body can definitely affect both your hair and nails. If blood tests for thyroid, iron and b12 levels come back within range (the usual culprits behind any changes in your hair) there’s still a lot that you can do to get a salon-free shine.
Get a bite on biotin. Besides getting biotin from select food sources, biotin is also manufactured in our intestines by “friendly” bacteria (making it essential to take a probiotic daily). In some instances though, a biotin deficiency can cause hair loss, which progresses in severity to include loss of eyelashes and eyebrows in severely deficient subjects, as well as nails that break, chip, or flake easily.
Bottom line: Foods high in biotin including swiss chard, carrots, almonds and other nuts, whole eggs, goat and cow’s milk, halibut, strawberries and raspberries, and some vegetables such as onions and cucumbers.
Stock up on selenium. A potent micronutrient, selenium is essential for healthy thyroid function, as it is required for the intracellular conversion of T4 to T3 (the inactive thyroid into its more active form). In addition, selenium is required in the transport of thyroid hormones into our cell and it has also been show to lower thyroid antibodies. Since a sluggish thyroid can contribute to your hair quality or thinning, I recommend including selenium-rich foods in your diet daily.
Bottom line: These include brazil nuts, crimini mushrooms, cod, shrimp, tuna, halibut, salmon, scallops, chicken, eggs, shiitake mushrooms, lamb, and turkey. It only takes 1-2 brazil nuts per day to improve your selenium status.
See healthier hair with vitamin C. Stress can deplete vitamin C levels in the body in as little as 20 minutes so it’s not surprising that can affect your mane. Vitamin C is essential to producing collagen, a connective tissue that gives structure by holding tissues in the body together, including hair, skin and nails. A vitamin C deficiency can cause the hair to be susceptible to problematic splitting and breaking, however the good news is that this is reversible.
Bottom line: Foods that are highest in vitamin C include strawberries, acerola cherries, citrus fruits, kiwi, bell peppers, brussel sprouts, dark leafy greens, broccoli, cauliflower, tomatoes and even some fresh herbs such as cilantro, chives, thyme, basil and parsley. Be sure to eat your fruits versus drinking them as the latter is too high in sugar.
Boost your intake of iron. Iron’s main job is to carry oxygen in the hemoglobin of red blood cells. Iron deficiency can lead to a condition called anemia and to possible hair loss or increased hair shedding – in fact, it is perhaps the most common culprit behind hair loss. Low iron can be easily diagnosed with a blood test and often has other symptoms such as fatigue, weakness and general poor health. If you have a very heavy menstrual cycle you can pretty much guarantee that your iron levels are taking a hit.
Bottom line: Add in iron-rich foods such as lean red meat, turkey, egg yolks, dried beans, dried fruit, and whole grains.
Add a zest of zinc. Zinc is a mineral that promotes cell reproduction and tissue growth and repair. Zinc also functions in the maintenance of the oil-secreting glands attached to hair follicles. Both hair loss and dandruff can be linked back to a zinc deficiency.
Bottom line: top up your plate with good sources of zinc include oysters, nuts (walnuts, cashews, pecans, almonds), beans, beef and lamb.
Healthy hair growth cocktail. Try adding the following to your daily supplement regime: Zinc 30mg, Magnesium 400 – 600mg, silica (Bamboo Silica by Nutristart is my favourite) or a few capsules of liquid collagen, vitamin C 2000mg and a mix of healthy fats including Omega-3 6000mg and Evening primrose oil 1000mg. If you are low in iron or B12 look for an iron glycinate or pick up a pre-natal vitamin which is loaded with nutrients, including iron and folic acid, and add 2000mcg of B12 daily. Since lysine improves the absorption of iron levels, you can also incorporate 500mg – 1000mg daily. To top it off, add 1 tbsp of ground flax seed twice daily, which has been shown to slow hair loss. Also remember to have protein with each meal as lack thereof can lead to weak and brittle hair. Lastly, for a homemade hair mask that will add some shine without extra chemicals, try organic coconut oil. Simply melt the oil in a saucepan, let cool slightly so it isn’t scalding, apply to your hair and leave it on for 20 – 30minutes (you can wear a shower cap to continue about your tasks). Then wash the mixture out and condition your hair. A tablespoon a day will also boost your thyroid function.