You can use all the lotions and potions, oils, gels and serums you want, but in all honesty, healthy hair starts from the inside out.
Whole, nourishing foods are the foundation of healthy hair. The old saying “we are what we eat” really runs true!
The foods we eat literally make up the building blocks of who we are, from the inside out. Our diet has such a huge impact on the health of every part of our body, and that includes our hair. A good diet is unquestionably vital to having healthy hair.
To help you nourish your hair from the inside out, I’ve created a two-part blog to give you the ultimate guide to caring for your hair in a natural & healthy way, from both the inside and the outside. Part one of this blog covers 7 Ways to Nourish your Hair from the Outside.
And here in Part 2 we shall cover Nutrients to Nourish your Hair from the Inside, covering what nutrients you need and where to find them, from both food and supplement sources.
Nutrients to Nourish Your Hair from the Inside
As I mentioned at the beginning, what you eat is vital for your overall health, and especially for your hair, but don’t worry, you don’t have to completely overhaul your diet to achieve the benefits. Simply adding more fruits and veggies can do wonders for your locks.
By incorporating more of these nutrient-packed, antioxidant-rich into your diet, both you and your hair will be glowing from the inside out.
Since hair is made primarily of protein, it makes sense that including it in your diet will help maintain healthy growth and shine. Protein is one of the building blocks of hair, and deficiencies can lead to weak, brittle hair. Without enough quality protein coming into your body through a good diet, it’s hard to replace hair that falls out naturally.
Best food sources: Nuts and seeds (hemp and chia seeds are great), legumes such as kidney/butter/black beans and green/puy/red lentils, green leafy veggies, spirulina/chlorella, bone broth, lean organic meats and pastured eggs.
Supplement option: Another option is to add an excellent protein powder into your smoothies, like hemp, pea, rice, or a combo like Sun Warrior.
Essential Fatty Acids
If your hair is dry and brittle to touch, it may because your scalp isn’t getting or producing enough of its own natural oils to moisturize your scalp and locks.
EFA are something the body needs but can’t produce on its own, so it’s important to get it through the diet. They help to bring moisture to the scalp and hair from the inside out by supporting healthy oil production and lubrication of the hair shaft. This translates to softer, shinier, stronger hair with a higher growth rate – hurrah!
Best food sources: load up on essential fatty acids, by consuming foods like hemp/flax/chia seeds, sesame/sunflower/pumpkin seeds, raw nuts like walnuts. wild-caught fatty fish (such as salmon, anchovies, sardines, and mackerel) and leafy greens.
Supplement option: You can also take DHA and EPA supplements daily like Udo’s Oil, Nordic Naturals, Nourish Omega 3
And whilst we’re on the topic of fat, other healthy fats like avocados, olives, coconut and the oils of all of these fats (like avocado/olive/flax/hemp/chia oil etc.) are also excellent additions to your diet for healthy hair.
Iron deficiency is a very common deficiency with symptoms including tiredness, weakness, brittle nails and hair loss. Low levels of iron are related to low red blood cell counts, which can result in hair loss.
Best food sources: green leafy veggies like kale, chard, spinach etc, nettles, dandelion, spirulina, almonds, blackstrap molasses, and organic grass-fed beef & lamb, liver and eggs.
Supplement option: You can take an iron supplement but I recommend getting an iron test done by your doctor to get your ferritin levels checked first. This mineral is tricky – consuming too little or too much can cause serious issues. Plus, the symptoms of too high and too low levels are quite similar so it’s always best to make sure.
Zinc promotes cell reproduction, tissue growth and repair and is essential for skin health, therefore supporting the skin on our scalp. This, in turn, helps to support hair follicle health, so having enough will guarantee the skin on your scalp stays healthy.
A zinc deficiency can also be a cause of your dandruff (as well as low EFA and chemical hair care products). Zinc also helps to prevent excess hair shedding.
Best food sources: Nuts and seeds (pumpkin seeds—whole or shelled—are an excellent way to get your zinc intake for the day), green leafy veg, beans and lentils, seafood and dark chocolate.
Supplement option: Again, you can take a zinc supplement, but I recommend getting a blood test done by your doctor first, or at least taking this mineral in combination with copper or in a multivitamin. If you take consistent high levels of this mineral it can deplete your copper levels and cause other complications, including lowering your immune system.
Viridian Zinc with Copper, Nourish multivitamin
A lack of vitamin D is linked to decreased hair growth, so make sure to get enough sunshine when you can, and take a supplement such as Dlux during the winter.
For more detailed information about why you need vitamin D, see my previous blog here.
Many people are deficient in Vitamin D, so I would advise getting a test done by your doctor to find out what strength of vitamin D would suit you best.
Best food sources: eggs, fatty fish, including sardines, mackerel and salmon, mushrooms (portobello, maitake, morel, button, and shiitake mushrooms are all high in vitamin D), and fortified foods like tofu and plant-based milks.
Supplement option: My favourite supplement is Dlux Vitamin D Spray, but there are also other great ones like Nourish Liquid D or Nordic Naturals D
Grey, brittle, dry and generally unhealthy hair can often be caused by lack of B vitamins. B Vitamins are essential in many roles of the body, and in the case of maintaining healthy hair, they are incredibly important.
Simply put, all B vitamins are known to boost hair and skin health, but here’s a small highlight on a couple that stands out the most:
Biotin (vitamin B7): biotin helps to regenerate cell growth helping to combat hair loss and brittle hair, whilst simultaneously repairing follicles that have been damaged by over-styling/processing or sun damage. Symptoms of a deficiency are thinning or loss of hair. If you experience hair breakage, slow growth or loss, give a B complex plus a biotin supplement a try.
Vitamin B12: Since healthy, strong hair relies on a constant supply of blood and oxygen, it’s crucial to maintain optimal levels of B vitamins, especially B12, since they’re essential to the formation of haemoglobin, which brings around the body. B12 helps with the oxygenation and formation of red blood cells at the base of the hair follicle.
And here’s a fun fact – prematurely greying hair is often linked to a B12 deficiency. If your B vitamins are low, it’s likely that the blood and oxygen supply to your hair is suffering.
Folate/Folic acid – Folic acid plays an important role in hair growth. It renews the cells that aid the growth of hair. Folic acid deficiency can lead to premature greying and hair loss.
Best food sources: you can get B-vitamins from all kinds of food, especially plant-based foods like fruit, vegetables, seaweeds, beans, lentils, nuts, seeds and whole grains. The one exception is B12. As B12 is only found in animal food sources it is especially important for vegetarians and vegans to supplement this nutrient.
Foods rich in B12 include shellfish and crustaceans, liver, meat like beef and lamb, fish such as salmon, sardines and tuna, and dairy like yoghurt and milk.
Supplement option: The alternative option is to purchase great quality B-complex supplements to boost your levels alongside eating a good diet.
I just advise one thing – although you can buy B vitamins separately, it’s always best to consume the B vitamins in a complex form, as they all work synergistically together. If you take just one, the others can be depleted – not so good!
And yes, you can take a B complex AND a separate B12 or Biotin on top for example.
And of course – hydration is vitally important too, not only for your health but for your hair too. Staying hydrated is very important because water hydrates the hair strands from the inside out, nourishing new hair growth.
Freshly pressed juices, homemade smoothies, broths, herbal teas, coconut water and water/shakes/smoothies with added greens powders are excellent ways to increase hydration.
If you feel like your hair’s growth has slowed, perhaps it’s become more brittle than before, or you’re experiencing embarrassing dandruff as of late, or even hair loss, I recommend taking a look at your diet and making sure you’re getting all the above nutrients in.
Do please be aware though that these problems could be down to all matter of things, from vitamin deficiency, stress, hormonal changes, age, over-styling or various lifestyle factors. All of these things can impact the health of your hair.
*** If you are experiencing sudden and/or extreme hair loss, a skin rash or any major change, please speak to a registered health practitioner.
These may be caused by hormonal imbalances, thyroid problems or a reaction to your shampoo or hair dye, so it’s best to check it out.
*Please note that while we are knowledgeable about our products and nutrition, this blog should never be a substitute for medical advice and attention
Please remember that you should always obtain the all-clear from your doctor before starting any new supplement plan or diet if you’re on any medication