Having beautiful hair is something that everyone wants. If we look at the number of advertisements for hair gummies that are being sold by various personalities on Instagram or other social media platforms, it would appear that it is a topic that many take at heart. However, although gummies are definitely helpful, I am also a strong believer that anything can be achieved with the right diet. In fact, taking supplements to have strong and shiny hair is a simple way to achieve this, nonetheless, those supplements can easily be made of the various nutrients you can find in your food. If you can reach your hair goals by having the right nutrition, drinking the right amount of water, and being conscious of the vitamins, minerals, and macronutrients you have in your diet, why not? This is exactly what this book will attempt to help you with.
This being said, before we get down to the details, let’s take a step back and take a holistic look at the common issues faced by many regarding their hair. Of course, the first thing that may come to your mind is hair loss. It has happened to most of us to wash our hair in the shower and to wonder Am I supposed to be losing this much hair? And the short answer to this is: maybe! Scientists at the American Academy of Dermatology (ADD) have stated that losing between 50 and 100 hairs daily is nothing of concern. This number of hairs may seem quite high at first, but in reality, it really isn’t that much when we consider that we have between 80 000 and 120 000 hairs on our heads! Thus, the few hairs you see on your hands after giving it a sturdy wash is nothing that should make you lose any sleep.
Nonetheless, it can seem rather shocking to see so much hair coming out at first. If you feel like you may be losing more hair than you think you should be (which is when you lose more than 100 hairs daily, multiple days a week), this can start to be worrying. There are various reasons for this. First, you may be over-treating your hair. Of course, dyeing your hair too many times should be the first indication that your hair is tired of being damaged, that is if you start to notice that you lose quite a bit of hair after each treatment. Similarly, bleaching your hair multiple times a year can be very damaging to your hair, thus you may want to reduce it. Bleaching or using dye on your hair may not only lead to hair loss, but it will also most likely damage it and render it weak. Not only this, but using harsh hair products, for example, hair sprays or gels on a daily basis can lead to much more damage than your hair wants to deal with. It has also been discussed, although not yet proven scientifically, that wearing your hair up too tightly can damage it. Nevertheless, one of the greatest reasons behind hair loss is having a diet that is not high enough in iron, folic acid, and other minerals. These are some that we will be paying close attention to throughout this book. Of course, thinning hair may also be hereditary, may be due to conditions such as having an eating disorder, or may be due to the fact that your hormones are out of order (for example, post-pregnancy or after stopping taking the birth control pill). Ultimately, there are many reasons why your hair may be thinning or looking unhealthy. In this book, we will be focusing on the diet aspect– what you can consume in order to reduce this damage and to successfully have strong, long, and beautifully shiny hair.
As this book is focused on the diet aspect of having good hair, I have separated it into three major sections, each separated down into chapters. This way, you can easily check out sections that you think may be most appropriate for you. Perhaps you already drink enough water but aren’t sure of the mineral content of your food, or maybe you already know that you aren’t consuming enough iron. Whichever it is, you will be able to easily find the information you need.
In the first section, we will be looking at macronutrients. Although most of us know what fats, carbohydrates, and proteins are, we also tend to think of them as particles that each have different caloric content. Rarely do we understand how these impact all aspects of our bodies, namely our hair. Thus, the first chapter will discuss how fats influence our hair and all the important information regarding this macronutrient. The second chapter will be a deep-dive into carbohydrates and how these influence hair health, namely which kinds of carbohydrates you should be focusing on and which ones you should avoid. In the final chapter of this first section, we will be taking a closer look at what proteins are, how they are important to our hair (especially since hairs are made of proteins!), and thus how to take this into consideration when looking for ways to embellish one’s hair.
In the second section, we will be taking an even more microscopic look at the links between one’s diet and good hair by exploring micronutrients. More specifically, micronutrients are a mix of minerals and vitamins, each playing a role in the extent to which your hair is healthy. The fourth chapter will thus look at what vitamins you should include, both fat- and water-soluble ones. Then, the fifth chapter will provide you with more information on the minerals to consume as well as which ones you should be conscious of in regards to your hair’s health.
In the third and final section, we will be looking at the impact that water has on your hair health. On the one hand, we will be looking at what to be aware of when you shower as some water will contain minerals that can tarnish your hair’s health. On the other hand, we will be discussing the importance of drinking enough water to have good hair health. It is already common knowledge that drinking enough water throughout the day is vital for one’s health, but we also tend to forget the impact that drinking enough water has on one’s hair health. Thus, this will be discussed in more detail in the final section and chapter.
On that note, we are ready to get started. Hopefully, you are as excited as I am about this book. My aim is to leave you with all the necessary information to get you going successfully on your healthy, long, and strong hair journey. Without further ado, let’s get started!
Fats are one of the three main macronutrients, the other two being carbohydrates and proteins. We all know that eating a diet with an appropriate amount of fat is important, however, many of us also tend to underestimate how much this fat impacts all kinds of functions throughout our bodies. Thus, this chapter will discuss fats in detail, namely their impact on hair health. First, we will be looking at what fats are composed of at the molecular level, and we will then be taking a look at the kinds of fats you should be including in your diet to have healthier-looking and better-feeling hair.
According to the Glossary of Diabetes Terms found on WebMD, fats are “substances that help the body use some vitamins and keep the skin healthy”, meanwhile, they also are the “main way the body stores energy”. On the one hand, fats are the main macronutrient that are used by the body as a source of fuel when carbohydrates are not present or ready to be used up as fuel. On the other hand, when we eat too much, the extra energy consumed is transformed into fats. Each gram of fat contains nine calories which may be the reason why so many of us fear fats. In fact, there has been a war on fats coming from all sides in numerous countries simply because someone mistakenly said that the “fat you eat is the fat you wear”; this is untrue. Unfortunately, numerous people have now started to eat too little fat because of this reason, something which can greatly impact your health in the long term.
This description, however, has little to do with hair health, you will tell me! Indeed. Of course, fats are often known as the thing many of us dislike and want to get rid of, but in reality, fats are extremely important to one’s health. For example, good fats refer to those which are known as monounsaturated and polyunsaturated ones. These are some such as vegetable oil, nuts, nut butters, avocados, as well as some fats found in various fish kinds, in tofu, seeds, and more. These fats contain an especially important nutrient: omega-3 fatty acids. Let’s look at this in more detail.
Fats, when discussed from an academic perspective, are known as triglycerides. When they are broken down, they are broken down into monoglycerides. Through lipolysis, fats are broken down into fatty acids and glycerol. This is how your body turns fat into energy. However, and this is where it gets interesting for your hair goals, there are specific fatty acids that should be included in your diet, namely omega-3s. These help open up hair follicles and therefore are helpful in boosting hair growth. Nevertheless, the studies on this specific aspect of omega-3 fatty acids are lacking. Omega-3 fatty acids are, however, a great addition to your diet if you are looking for better skin health. Therefore, if you struggle with dry, red, or itchy skin on your scalp which may lead to dandruff, it is a great addition to your diet, regardless of the direct impact they may have on the hair itself. Healthy scalp skin equals healthy hair!
On top of this, a 2018 study proved that fish oil can lead to hair growth, thus adding a portion of salmon to your weekly meals may help you in that department. Another study, although small-scale, showed that omega-3 supplements, namely through fish oil capsules, help by reducing hair loss. Nevertheless, the study also declared that it does not boost hair growth.
Thus, your best option is to include more omega-3 fatty acids in your diet. This is done by consuming more fish, for example. More specifically, aim to consume more salmon, mackerel, tuna, herring, and sardines. These, alongside walnuts, seeds, flaxseed oil, or fortified foods can be great options for you.
In short, what this means is that the fat you eat will directly impact the health of your hair. In fact, the more healthy fats you have in your diet, the more it can protect you from hair loss. This is according to a few studies, however, these have been contested as discussed above.
Eating unhealthy fats will have a negative impact on your health in general, and therefore can be argued to be a reason for which you may be losing some of your hair. In any case, you should be trying to incorporate more omega-3 fatty acids into your diet in order to give it the best chances to grow healthily. Omega-3 fatty acids are great for a variety of reasons, but helping your hair grow healthy and strong is definitely one of the key points to keep in mind in this context.
Although by now it should have become clear that eating fat is something that you should be doing, there is a more general aspect to consider when we are looking at fats in general. Your hair and skin are direct representations of your health. If you eat a bad diet, for example, one containing too few essential fatty acids, chances are that you are more likely to have unruly scalp skin. Thus, you are more likely to be struggling with hair-related issues.
According to Harvard Health Publishing, the fat you eat is not the fat that you wear. However, the fat you eat will directly impact your health depending on the kind you eat. For example, you will want to cut back on unhealthy fats, such as those found in fried foods. Also known as trans fats, these bad fats are some that are harmful to your health. These fats are solid at room temperature; butter, margarine, shortening or beef or pork fat are the most common ones. Saturated fat, namely the ones found in fatty cuts of beef, pork or lamb as well as high-fat dairy foods and tropical oils or lard, are some that you should be reducing or keeping very low. Similarly, you should completely avoid trans fats which are found in fried foods, margarine, baked goods, and processed foods. Of course, having a few of these once in a while is not going to kill you, but indulging in these numerous times throughout the week will raise the LDL (or bad) cholesterol, something that can lead to an increased risk of heart disease, diabetes, and stroke.
Instead, you should be focussing on healthy fats, namely monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. These are some of which are found in mainly plant-based sources, such as the ones I listed above (nuts, vegetable oils, and so on).
We’ve all heard about these old wives’ tales which encourage us to add olive oil to our hair to make it grow, or sometimes even mayonnaise. These haven’t been proven to work quite well, however, you can still add some kinds of oils to help your hair grow. For example, a study showed that adding pumpkin seed essential oils into one’s shampoo increased the hair count of men by as much as 40%. Similarly, you can dilute your essential oils in jojoba oil and apply it to your hair. You should avoid applying essential oils to your skin directly, therefore, to your scalp. Instead, make sure to dilute it first using a carrier oil; these are things that you can buy online or in most natural stores. Trials were made on animals and suggested that oils from rosemary or peppermint benefitted hair growth, nonetheless, this is difficult to apply to humans without human trials. You can always try it out and see for yourself if you think this helps you. Carrier oils are some such as coconut, sunflower, mineral, and castor oils; these also prevent hair damage.
Ultimately, the studies which discuss the links between healthy fats and hair loss or hair growth are lacking in detail and lacking in numbers. Although studies have, generally speaking, discussed that omega-3 fatty acids can help reduce inflammation, dry and itchy skin and thereby lead to healthier skin that is prone to less hair loss, the studies are not clearly showing that hair growth results from this. Nevertheless, eating healthy fats instead of unhealthy fats contributes, holistically speaking, to one’s overall health. Therefore, in order to have a healthy, well-functioning body, one should put more emphasis on healthy sources of fats. Having a healthy body will inevitably help have better skin and, thus, better hair.
On that note, I encourage you to also do your own research. The studies I have found are great to show the different kinds of fatty acids that you may want to include in your diet, however, they are not as conclusive as I would have liked them to be. In any case, it cannot hurt to eat more salmon, so try it out and pay close attention to how well your hair is doing! This being said, we are ready to start taking a look at the next chapter which will be discussing another macronutrient in more detail: carbohydrates.
Having discussed fats to a great extent, we can now take a look at the impact of consuming more or fewer carbohydrates on your hair health. More specifically, we will discuss how carbohydrates are your body’s main source of energy and therefore how you should consume enough of these to have enough energy to fulfill all of your body’s main functions. Indeed, hair growth takes up a lot of energy. Think about it; how much hair grows on your body? We have hair on almost all areas of our bodies, therefore, it takes up a lot of energy to keep this hair growing. Of course, we want the hair on our heads to look nice and luscious, however, our hair’s main function is to keep us warm. Therefore, it only makes sense that it keeps growing if we get rid of it.
In any case, the number of carbohydrates that you consume will directly impact your body’s health. Not only this, but the hair you have may also be directly correlated to the hormones going through your body. And, surprise, your hormones are directly impacted by the carbohydrates you eat! Thus, stay tuned as this chapter will cover numerous aspects that are interesting when it comes to healthy hair.
Before we dive any deeper into the topic of carbohydrates, it’s important to understand what carbohydrates are all together. Carbohydrates make up the second group of the three main macronutrients. These are often understood as various sugars, but they are much more than just that. They are usually split into three categories: sugars, starches, and fibers. Sugars are usually either polysaccharides (complex sugars such as starch and glycogen) and monosaccharides (such as glucose and fructose). Carbohydrates are found in various foods: from processed foods to fruits and vegetables, we tend to eat loads of carbohydrates.
In fact, there is quite often a misconception when it comes to carbohydrates. Many tend to think that all carbs are terrible for one’s health. However, this is untrue. Fruits and vegetables are, in large part, made up of carbohydrates. These are quite obviously healthy. However, the bad carbs are things like processed cakes and cookies.
Having discussed this, you may now be wondering what the deal is with carbohydrates and hair growth. Let’s take a look.
Lots. Indeed, eating carbohydrates triggers a cycle of reactions and hormones that, when triggered, can lead to certain issues. For example, there is a reason why many people who are obese are told to reduce their carbohydrate intake. This is because carbohydrates, when ingested, launch an insulin loop that makes it easy for the body to get hunger cues confused. More specifically, when you eat carbs that contain no fiber, such as processed foods, your blood sugar spikes and then crashes again, so you keep getting hungry even though you have eaten more than enough.
Now, this is all interesting to know, but you may be wondering what this has to do with hair health. Quite a bit, in fact! This hormone balance is very fragile. In fact, eating too many bad carbs can lead you to eat too much even when you are not hungry, and this can, in turn, impact the other hormones going through your body. And, what’s more? Obesity has been shown to decrease hair production, especially in men. Of course, the point here is not to tell you to cut out carbohydrates. It is simply to tell you that eating highly processed foods can lead to undesirable results. Nevertheless, this has more to do with the kinds of carbohydrates that you eat than anything else.
Not only this, but the number of carbohydrates you eat can directly impact how much of it is created and how quickly. Your hair and skin cells grow almost six inches per year on average, according to the American Academy of Dermatology, making it the second-fastest-growing cells in the body. Therefore, this takes a lot of energy from your body. We all know how the body uses up energy and how it transforms it: we eat, some kind of chemical reaction occurs (a combination of metabolism and catabolism of foods, the complex Krebs cycle, and many more complicated processes), and boom, we have energy. Nevertheless, what most people don’t know, is that our bodies mostly rely on glucose for energy. Of course, some can trick their bodies and can lose loads of weight by embarking on low-carb diets such as the ketogenic diet as they rewire their bodies from a glucose-burning one to a fat-burning one. However, when it comes down to it, our brains run solely on glucose. The brain is what controls every single reaction in the body, it tells your body when it is cold and when it is too warm, and it is the organ that tells the rest of your body to keep growing more hair. Of course, I am not saying that following a ketogenic or another low-carb diet will impact your brain and therefore the hair, but there are nonetheless links to be made. More specifically, as hair and skin cell growth are two of the quickest cell growths, the processes by which this is done requires a lot of energy. If you do provide your body with the main source of energy it requires, carbohydrates, you may be putting your hair growth in jeopardy.
Having discussed the impact of eating too many bad carbs, it’s important to note that the exact opposite can occur if you eat a diet that is too low in carbohydrates, or consistently low in carbohydrates. For example, if you eat a diet that has very few carbohydrates (where your diet consists of less than 20% carbs), you may be missing out on very important nutrients that are not found in fats or proteins. Those who follow a ketogenic diet may have lower levels of biotin, a B vitamin that has long been associated with hair growth. The ketogenic diet is one in which one barely consumes any kind of carbohydrates. Also known as the “keto” diet, this is one that will have you mostly consume fats and proteins from animal products, therefore, it can easily happen that the quantities of micronutrients you require are too low. Therefore, fruits are often left out of low-carb diets because of the high carbohydrate content of numerous fruits, and this is similar to legumes, another source of biotin. Biotin is required to keep hair strong and healthy, thus, this is a necessity if this is your goal.
Not only this, but eating a diet which is low in carbohydrates (one that has a very small window of opportunity in terms of the fruits and vegetables you can consume) will most likely leave you deficient in other vital vitamins and minerals such as vitamin A and vitamin C. However, we will be taking a closer look at vitamins and minerals in the upcoming chapters. So, alongside the fact that the ketogenic diet, or other low-carb diets, take away your body’s main source of energy, it also leaves you with fewer vitamins and minerals. Thus, if you are considering the various ways you can improve your hair health, consider adding a few fruits and vegetables to your diet and you may notice some serious changes quite quickly. Finally, be aware that taking up a low-carb diet usually ends up with weight loss as these diets tend to be much lower in calories. Although weight loss is great if you are aiming to achieve a healthy weight, drastically reducing the number of calories that you consume in a day can lead your body to reduce the amount of energy it spends on vital processes such as hair creation. This is simply because your body thinks that it is going through a time of starvation as it is not having access to all the necessary vitamins and other nutrients it requires to thrive. Therefore, it cuts out the activities that usually require a lot of energy to focus on other, more important functions of life like breathing and pumping blood throughout your body.
Sugar is the final aspect of carbohydrates I want to touch on. Carbohydrates have already been shown to influence your hair, however, consuming foods that are rich in simple sugars has been shown to cause excess hair loss. This is because simple sugars lead to more sebum secretion and therefore this has an impact on your hair. Usually, sebum is beneficial. However, once your body starts producing too much of it, it “becomes food for micro-organisms found on skin, which cause decomposition of triacyglycerols contained in them. It leads to release of fatty acids irritating and causing development of inflammation state”. On top of this, the insulin we discussed earlier has also been proven to have an impact on circulatory disturbances in blood vessels which are found in your scalp, therefore, it can lead to hypoxia (too much oxygen) which can lead to more hair loss. Thus, try to reduce your sugar intake if it is high.
Explained simply, carbohydrates directly impact your body’s capacity to create hair. In fact, if you eat healthy carbohydrates, you are providing your body with all the right fuel needed to create hair. As carbohydrates are broken down into glucose, they are the best kinds of macronutrients to include in your diet if you are looking for a way to improve your hair growth, especially if you are currently eating a low-carb diet. On top of this, you should reduce the processed sugar you consume as this may lead to more hair loss.
Having discussed all of this in more detail, it’s now time to take a look at the final macronutrient we are going to be discussing in this book: protein.
 Dietary polyunsaturated fatty acids and inflammatory mediator production.
James MJ, Gibson RA, Cleland LG
Am J Clin Nutr. 2000 Jan; 71(1 Suppl):343S-8S.
We have talked extensively about carbohydrates and fats as two of the main macronutrients that you should be looking into if you want to increase your hair growth and the general health of your hair. However, there is one more thing to cover that is just as important: protein. Most of us know that hair is made up of proteins, but what does this mean in terms of getting better-looking, stronger hair? This chapter will take a look at how protein is involved with your hair, how to maximize growth using protein, and how hair is made in general.
Protein makes up one of the three main macronutrients. Protein, however, is also found throughout your body, as are fats and carbohydrates. According to Harvard Health, “protein is found throughout the body—in muscle, bone, skin, hair, and virtually every other body part or tissue. It makes up the enzymes that power many chemical reactions and the hemoglobin that carries oxygen in your blood. At least 10,000 different proteins make you what you are and keep you that way”, thus giving you a good idea of the reasons why protein is so important in your diet. However, another major reason why protein is important to include in your body is because of the fact that your hair is made up of it.
More specifically, your hair is made up of a protein called keratin. This protein is made up of amino acids, as are all proteins. This is why eating enough protein is especially important when it comes to growing long and strong hair. If you have too little protein in your diet, chances are that you are more likely to experience hair loss.
In order to create keratin, biotin is needed, which is why there are often products that are marketed as hair-growing agents when they contain biotin. In fact, those who are suffering from a biotin deficiency can benefit from more hair growth if they take on a biotin supplement. These deficiencies, however, are quite uncommon with people who have a generally well-balanced diet. Therefore, taking supplements if you already have a good level of biotin is unlikely to help you. In general, you should aim to consume enough protein in order to give your hair the best chances to grow luscious and strong.
Protein is made up of polypeptides which are long amino acid chains. These are the building blocks of things like your skin, hair, and nails. Therefore, by eating too little protein, your body will struggle to create sturdy hair, skin, and nails, which is one of the main reasons why it is so important that you eat enough protein. Your muscles are also made up of proteins among many other parts of your body, so make sure to eat at least one source of protein with every meal.
Protein is found in just about any kind of food. This can come as a surprise to most people! Indeed, in order to consume enough protein, you do not necessarily have to eat three chicken breasts or tons of yogurt and cottage cheese. Instead, you can easily get enough protein simply by adding in a source of it in each meal. For example, you can have protein by consuming animal products such as meat, dairy, and eggs. Or, if you prefer to steer clear of these, you can find protein in foods like legumes, nuts and seeds, soy products, and many more. In fact, fruits and vegetables have protein, albeit not enough to be considered good protein sources. Instead, focus on adding something with a high protein content to each of your meals and you should be set for success with regards to your protein requirements.
As this is an interesting aspect of hair, I thought about giving you some extra information on hair. More specifically, as your hair is made of proteins, what better time to look at how hair is made than in this chapter?
First, there is the anagen, or growth, phase. This phase is usually years-long as most hairs are growing at any given time. So most of your hair is probably at this stage right now. Then, the next stage is catagen, also known as the transitional phase. This phase is mainly the one in which your hair slowly grows and the hair follicle shrinks. This takes a few weeks. Finally, there is the resting phase. Over months, your hair growth will stop and the old hair which is long and not healthy anymore will be let away by the follicle. This is where a new hair starts growing, therefore the old hair is pushed out to make space for this new hair.
Therefore, the hair-creation cycle is one that is ongoing and which rarely takes a rest. If we go back to our idea of eating carbohydrates as a way to ensure that your body has sufficient amounts of energy to create all the hairs you need and to encourage hair creation rather than hair loss, you may be able to start making links between all of these aspects. For example, by eating too little protein, you will undoubtedly face issues regarding hair production simply because you are not providing your body with the needed requirements to create hairs that are strong and healthy. If you do not provide your body with the right fat content, you are taking away the important omega-3s it needs to create healthy hair. Thus, ultimately, being able to have healthy and strong hair falls back to the idea of having a healthy diet.
So, the question remains: what is a healthy diet? What do you need to include in your diet to be healthy and to have healthy hair? We have already discussed extensively how macronutrients impact your body’s health. We have also discussed sugar and having the right macronutrient ratios. However, we haven’t yet taken a look at the more specific aspects of these micronutrients. For example, what are the main micronutrients you need to be healthy? How can you be healthy while making sure that your hair has all the important nutrients it requires? This is what we will be looking at in the second section. More specifically, we will be taking a look at the kinds of micronutrients, such as vitamins and minerals, that you need to consider if you want to improve your hair quality. Without further ado, let’s jump over to the second section.
So far, most of the focus in this book was on the main three macronutrients that you need to include in your diet if you want to have strong hair. However, and you may have noticed this, the studies that I have included so far mostly discuss fats, proteins, and carbohydrates as a major group yet look more deeply at the more specific aspects of hair. For example, they take a closer look at how biotin is important to hair growth, and how vitamin D is necessary to keep your hair healthy. Thus, throughout this chapter, we will be taking a look at vitamins. Although there are certain vitamins that are better than others, I am a strong believer in having a holistic view of health. Therefore, we will be taking a look at all the various water-soluble and fat-soluble vitamins, of course focusing on those which are most appropriate for our topic which is hair health. Hopefully, by the end of this chapter, you will have a greater understanding of how vitamins can help you become healthier and thereby grow stronger and better-looking hair.
We all have a general idea of what vitamins are: they are microscopic things in our food that are needed for the right functioning of our bodies. Nevertheless, do we really know what they are? Indeed, vitamins are organic compounds that are needed for the normal growth of human beings. These vitamins are separated into two main groups: water-soluble and fat-soluble ones. Water-soluble vitamins are some that can dissolve in water. These are some that must be taken in on a daily basis. Vitamin C and some of the B vitamins are water-soluble. On the other hand, fat-soluble vitamins are some that can dissolve in fats and oils. Thus, they are absorbed with fats in the diet and thereby are stored in your fatty tissue. The fat-soluble vitamins are namely vitamin A, vitamin D, vitamin E, and vitamin K.
Each vitamin that you consume has a specific function in your body. Here is a quick list of each of these vitamins’ functions:
Thiamine is also known as Vitamin B1 and it converts nutrients into fuel.
Riboflavin is also known as Vitamin B2. It produces energy and metabolizes fat.
Niacin is also known as Vitamin B3 and it creates fuel through food.
Pantothenic acid is also known as Vitamin B5 and is involved in fatty acids synthesis (if you recall, fatty acids are the building blocks of fats).
Pyridoxine is also known as Vitamin B6 and releases sugars stored as glycogen in your fat cells. It is also responsible for the creation of red blood cells.
Biotin is also known as Vitamin B7 and is responsible for glucose, amino acid, and fatty acid metabolism. If you recall from the previous chapter, biotin is greatly involved in the production of the amino acids that make up keratin.
Folate is also known as Vitamin B9 and is responsible for mitosis and meiosis (or cell division).
Cobalamin is also known as Vitamin B12 and is responsible for the production of red blood cells, brain as well as nervous system function. You must supplement this vitamin if you are following a vegan or plant-based diet as this diet does not contain nearly enough B12, something which can lead to long-term nerve damage.
Ascorbic Acid, most commonly known as Vitamin C, is responsible for the creation of neurotransmitters and collagen. This vitamin is usually easy to consume in normal amounts simply because it is found in numerous foods.
Vitamin A is responsible for good eyesight and the proper function of your organs. This is mostly found in carrots, which is why your parents made you eat them with your dinner!
Vitamin D is responsible for immune system function and the absorption of calcium among others. We will discuss this vitamin in more detail shortly as it is important if your goal is to grow longer and beautifully strong hair.
Vitamin E is responsible for proper immune system function and acts as an antioxidant that shields your cells from damage. This vitamin is often found in hair products for that very reason.
Finally, vitamin K is responsible for blood clotting and proper bone development.
Having taken a general look at the vitamins that your body requires, it’s time to look at a few of these in more depth. For example, there are a few vitamins that you may want to supplement in your daily diet if you are looking for a way to improve your hair condition and hair length as hair, like any other part of your body, requires certain nutrients to grow long and healthy. Keep in mind that you should be careful of not eating too much of any of these nutrients, however, most of these will simply pass through your system if you have too high a concentration of them in your blood. So, stay aware and be careful, but don’t worry too much.
Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin that is needed for any cell in your body to grow correctly. All your cells require this vitamin, therefore adding a few foods in your diet that contain vitamin A is key if you want to achieve a certain level of health. And, vitamin A is especially good to add to your daily regimen in order to grow hair as it helps your skin glands make sebum, the oil substance we discussed earlier when talking about carbohydrates. This sebum, when secreted in normal quantities, keeps your scalp moisturized and therefore keeps your hair healthy. In fact, diets that have low levels of vitamin A have been associated with hair loss. Nonetheless, if you consume too much vitamin A, you may end up overdosing which can also contribute to hair loss. To increase your level of vitamin A, try including more sweet potatoes, carrots, or pumpkins into your diet. Nevertheless, watch out for symptoms of an overdose: drowsiness, abdominal pain, blurry vision or vision changes, swelling of the bones, and more. Don’t take more than 700 micrograms of vitamin A daily if you are a female over nineteen and 900 micrograms for males over nineteen.
As discussed previously, biotin is an incredibly important vitamin, especially when it comes to growing your hair. For example, hair loss has been closely linked to biotin deficiencies in human beings. However, if you are not deficient, taking supplements may not be a successful way to increase your hair count or to make your hair stronger. There is, unfortunately, a lack of data in that field. Other B vitamins, as stated above, are also important to create red blood cells that carry oxygen and other vital nutrients to your scalp. Red blood cells go directly to the blood capillaries that feed every single follicle which is on your scalp, therefore making sure that you have good blood and oxygen flow is key.
Vitamin C is another important vitamin to include in your diet, especially if you are looking at hair loss that is due to aging. For example, free radical damage is often at the root cause of growth which is blocked due to aging. More specifically, free radicals are roaming through your body and can be toxic, and there are certain things that one can consume to block this: antioxidants. Antioxidants come in various forms, and vitamin C is one of these. Vitamin C is a very powerful antioxidant that has been proven to fight against the oxidative stress that free radicals may cause, thereby helping your body continue its growth and therefore your hair to grow. On top of this, collagen is created using vitamin C. Collagen is an important part of the hair structure along with keratin, thus, vitamin C is something you should make sure to have enough of. And, what’s more, vitamin C helps you absorb iron, something that is needed for growth and which we will discuss in more detail in the upcoming chapter. Citrus fruits are an excellent source of vitamin C.
Vitamin D is the next one that you should probably supplement. Unfortunately, in most places of the world where the sun is not shining often enough, many individuals are struggling with a vitamin D deficiency. As mentioned above, it is an important vitamin as it is involved in numerous functions throughout the body. Not only this, but vitamin D levels that are too low are linked closely to hair loss. In fact, research has shown that vitamin D can be helpful in creating new follicles, known as the pores in the scalp where your hair grows. Vitamin D is also very important in hair production, although most of the studies that have been put out so far focus mainly on vitamin D receptors. Thus, the role of vitamin D on hair growth itself is still vague and unknown. If you are in contact with the sun’s rays, you may have enough vitamin D. However, vitamin D is a common deficiency that many individuals deal with, and thus you may want to increase your intake by taking a supplement or eating fatty fish.
The final vitamin we will be looking at is vitamin E. This vitamin, just like vitamin C, is a strong antioxidant. This antioxidant prevents oxidative stress as well, the same way vitamin C does. In fact, a study that was conducted recently showed that hair growth increased by as much as 34.5% after they began supplementing with vitamin E for eight consecutive months. And, this study proved that the data was reliable as the placebo group had less than a 0.1% increase! You can choose to supplement vitamin E using pills, or, you can eat more sunflower seeds, avocados, or almonds. Indeed, you have an excuse to eat more avocado toast!
The bottom line is that you should be careful about the diet you have if you are looking to increase your hair length. One can grow incredibly strong hair simply by making sure that one’s body has all the necessary requirements. This is one of the simplest ways to improve your chances of growing strong and beautiful hair. Make sure to increase your water intake while taking water-soluble vitamins, and include some kind of oil or fat whenever you take a fat-soluble vitamin supplement. In the end, tracking your micronutrients may be a good option for you!
On that note, we are ready to move on to the next chapter which will be taking a closer look at the minerals that you should potentially supplement as well. Minerals, just like vitamins, each play a role in the extent to which your body can carry out its basic functions. So without further ado, let’s take a closer look at these.
As we have discussed the various vitamins that are needed for general health and therefore better hair, it’s now time to look at the second category of micronutrients: minerals. Minerals are inorganic substances that are naturally solid. However, the minerals we are discussing, in this case, are microscopic. These include some, like calcium and magnesium, and you should attempt to meet your daily requirements daily. Although it would be interesting to include daily requirements, as I can imagine that every reader is different, I encourage you to instead sign up for an app like Cronometer. This app can help you easily track your micronutrient intake to give you an idea of whether you are deficient anywhere. In any case, this chapter will be taking a look at minerals. Just like vitamins, minerals are separated into categories, so we will be taking a closer look at this. And, finally, we will be outlining which minerals you may want to emphasize in order to grow long and strong hair.
First, let’s talk about minerals. In the context of nutrition, minerals are chemical elements that are required by the human body (among other species) in order to successfully perform the necessary functions of life. In simpler words, they are chemicals that your body needs in order to perform certain actions, similar to vitamins. Minerals are separated into two categories: macrominerals and trace minerals. Macrominerals are present at larger levels in the body and are thus required in higher amounts, hence their name. Trace minerals are also called microminerals. These are minerals that are required at lesser amounts by the human body.
Take a look at the various macrominerals and trace minerals, as well as their functions, below.
Calcium is responsible for the formation and upkeep of strong bones and teeth, as well as for muscle movement among others.
Phosphorus is also vital for healthy and strong bones and is required to create a healthy cell membrane structure for all your cells.
Magnesium is responsible for good enzyme function and the regulation of blood pressure. Enzymes, if you recall, are proteins that carry out actions faster in your body in order to increase the efficacy of these processes.
Sodium is needed for heart function but amounts too great directly impact your blood pressure, thus you must be careful about your intake.
Chloride is required for digestion and a good fluid balance within and outside of your cells.
Potassium is a needed electrolyte that is vital for the proper function of your nervous system and a good balance of fluids in your body.
Finally, sulfur is needed for protein synthesis, such as the one done for your hair.
Trace minerals are the final category of micronutrients that are required by your body to function well and to perform all of the necessary life functions without too many complications.
Iron is extremely important and, unfortunately, often a trace mineral that many are deficient in. It is required for the proper providing of oxygen to all of your cells. It is also required to produce some hormones and is greatly involved in your hair health.
Manganese is responsible for the metabolism of amino acids, cholesterol, and of certain carbohydrates.
Copper is in charge of the formation of connective tissue and for the proper function of your brain and nervous system among other things.
Zinc is required for growth, for proper immune system activity and promotes wound healing properties. This, alongside iron, is a trace mineral we will be taking a closer look at shortly in this chapter.
Iodine is needed for proper metabolism as it impacts thyroid function.
Fluoride is required for good bone growth and strong teeth.
And finally, selenium is required for a well-performing reproductive system and balanced metabolism.
Now that you have a better idea of all the minerals you require in order to have a healthy body, let’s take a closer look at a few of the minerals that you may want to focus on in order to have great hair. Keep in mind the same warning I gave you regarding vitamins. Do not overdo the supplements as this can be bad for your health. Make sure not to take too many minerals and stick to your daily recommendations. Again, use an app to help you out with this!
Selenium has long been a mineral that many have chosen to supplement as it supports hair growth. In fact, it has many benefits for hair, some of which include that it kills dandruff-causing fungus. Additionally, as it is extremely important for the production of thyroid hormones, it helps regulate hair growth. Moreover, selenium can help regenerate antioxidants in the body, thereby neutralizing the free radicals that weaken fair follicles. Not only this, but a study conducted in 2018 found that selenium, which is vital for the synthesis of over 35 proteins, can help revive pigmentation in hair. Additionally, it was found that in patients undergoing chemotherapy, those who received selenium supplementation showed a “significant decrease in hair loss and other gastrointestinal symptoms”. Thus, supplementing your intake of selenium can help with hair growth and keeping it healthy.
Zinc is an important mineral when it comes to hair tissue growth and repair. It additionally keeps the oil glands (which produce the needed sebum to keep your scalp moisturized and thus to reduce inflammation which leads to hair loss) working properly. In fact, many studies have proven that hair loss is a common symptom of being deficient in zinc. Other studies have proven that taking zinc supplements can reduce hair loss which is due to zinc deficiencies. This being said, there are some other studies, or anecdotal reports, which argue that taking too high doses of zinc can lead to hair loss. So instead of focusing on supplements, you may want to increase your zinc intake through whole foods instead of supplements. Good sources of zinc include pumpkin seeds and lentils, for example.
Iron may be one of the most common minerals that many individuals are deficient in. After all, anemia is quite common nowadays, especially as people are steering away from good sources of iron (such as red meat) because of the negative effects they have on one’s health (red meat has lots of ‘bad fat’ as discussed in the first chapter). Iron is needed to carry oxygen to your cells, thus, not having enough of it can lead you to feel fatigued all the time for no reason. Because it carries oxygen to your cells and thus to your blood capillaries, it is a vital mineral to consume in the right amounts. Iron deficiencies, as mentioned, cause anemia. Anemia is one of the leading causes of hair loss, and it is most common in women according to four different studies. Therefore, taking a supplement may be a good idea if you are struggling with hair loss. Otherwise, try to consume more foods that are high in iron, such as eggs, spinach, and lentils.
Ultimately, your goals should be to avoid hair loss, to promote hair growth, and thereby to have strong, healthy-looking, shiny, and beautiful hair. The way to do so is to have a healthy diet that consists of the right mix of vitamins as discussed in the previous chapter and of the right minerals. Although you should aim to have the right balance of all, certain minerals, such as selenium, zinc, and iron, are particularly important when it comes to your hair. Therefore, considering eating more foods that are high in these minerals is a good way to ensure that you have healthy hair.
On that note, this brings us to the end of this chapter and of this second section. So far, we discussed the three main categories of macronutrients and discussed, in-depth, the importance of having the right balance of micronutrients, more specifically, vitamins and minerals. Although all minerals and vitamins are important, you should try to eat enough of those that were listed as important ones for your hair. Additionally, when we combine this to the topics discussed in the previous section, it should become clear that a healthy diet is key for healthy-looking hair. Nevertheless, we have one final aspect to touch on: hydration. Indeed, drinking enough water is vital for healthy-looking and feeling hair and skin, so the next section will touch on this in more detail. We will look at the benefits of drinking more water and how it directly impacts the look, feel, and health sides of your hair. Without further ado, let’s take a look at the links between hydration and hair health.
It is no secret that drinking water is a key aspect of health. In fact, when we look at health tips in general, the first tip on the list is usually to drink more water. This is just as true when it comes to having healthy hair! Throughout this chapter, I will be giving you some information on how water helps you grow your hair and helps you keep your hair healthy. First, we will be taking a look at the general benefits of drinking more water, and we will then look at the aspects which are more specifically geared towards healthy hair and hair growth.
Quite a few people tend to think that water is just something that we need to drink here and there, or only when we feel so thirsty that we could drink rivers. However, the truth is that we rely on water more than anything else. We can do as long as months without any food. But, according to Claude Piantadosi from Duke University, we can only go around 100 hours without water. This is because water is used for every single function in our body and makes up 60% of our entire bodies. Therefore, we need it for just about anything and everything! Water is needed to create saliva, for example. We also need to drink more while exercising as we perspire as much as 6 to 10% of our body weight during physical activity. Of course, there are hundreds of reasons why water is something we should be drinking every day and in great amounts. Although studies differ with their conclusions, generally speaking, you should listen to your thirst instincts. Drink water as needed unless you notice that you barely drink any throughout the day, in which case you should try to sneak in a glass here and there throughout the day.
Drinking water is not only important for all your bodily functions and because it cleans your system of toxins roaming around in your blood. It is also important if you are looking to have shiny hair, for example. Water is a source of hydration, of course, which helps your scalp stay moisturized and which provides your sebum-producing glands with the needed binding agent to produce this sebum. Moreover, various studies have shown that water can help with hair growth. Not only this but drinking enough water allows for your body to get rid of toxins such as those found on your scalp. Making sure that your hair is well-moisturized, which you can ensure by drinking enough water, of course, will render it less likely to break and to fall off.
Drinking enough water is also beneficial to your skin. As your scalp is obviously made of skin, this is also something to consider. As it is the largest organ in your body, a lot of water is needed to keep it healthy. For example, the enzymes and components of the skin, including hyaluronic acid and collagen, require a fluid-like environment in order to function well. Moreover, the latter two give elasticity to your skin and therefore keep it well-hydrated and make sure that it does not look wrinkly or saggy, something which can impact your hair as well. In fact, if you do not keep your water levels up, this may lead to excess oil production on your scalp, thereby leaving you with overly greasy hair.
Moreover, water contains minerals, as discussed in the previous chapter, that are needed for proper hair health according to various studies. Some of these include iron, zinc, copper, and calcium, for example. Copper influences pigmentation, and calcium makes your hair shinier, for example. We have already discussed zinc, so we will not be looking at this in more detail. In general, it’s important to know that many studies have shown that water content in human hair impacts its growth and hair, therefore, drinking enough water is key.
An important point to make, however, is that hair is porous. Therefore, if you drink too much water, the hair shaft can swell and can be damaged by breaking or stretching too much.
Hard water, according to the Water Quality Association, refers to water that contains “dissolving compounds of calcium and magnesium, and sometimes even metallic elements”. This refers to the water in which you shower, not the water you drink. If you are having issues with your hair and try out all the tips and tricks included in this book, you may be left feeling hopeless if you see no changes. If this is the case, take a look at your water and let it get tested as it may be because it is hard water. This hard water can impact your hair by accumulating on both your hair and scalp, leaving it looking flat or feeling dry and brittle. Thus, this may be something to consider if you feel like nothing else is helping your hair!
If this is the case, you can buy a filtered showerhead that works by filtering out calcium sulfide, zinc, copper, and chlorine. Try it out and perhaps you will find the source of the problem.
On that note, this brings us to the end of this chapter and section. Hopefully, this chapter was helpful in convincing you to drink more water and gave you some good insights as to why water is a key element of having healthy hair. For now, let’s head over to the conclusion for a few last words on the matter.
Having to deal with hair falling out or hair looking a certain way that we are unhappy with is something that can quickly turn into a situation that we feel hopeless about. For many years, men and women have been looking at various products to help them get better-looking hair or to help them deal with those issues, alas, without success. This is why I chose to write this book: sometimes, the solution resides in the very basics, such as in the foods we eat and those we omit from our diets.
This is precisely why this book started out by looking at the very basics: fats, carbohydrates, and proteins. These three macronutrient groups each offer something different for your hair, and thus, a healthy balance of each is key to having a healthy head full of strong and long hair. Moreover, the nutrients within each of these macronutrients are equally important, if not more important. Thus, this is where I put all my attention in the second section.
Finally, we touched on water briefly as it tends to be forgotten. Indeed, don’t omit your daily water needs as the latter is extremely important for all kinds of functions throughout your body.
I genuinely hope that this book is helpful to you and cannot wait to hear your success stories. Having said this, take a final look at the chapters and make sure to take note of all the information you find may be applicable to you. On that note, I wish you the best of luck!