Hair grows from the roots, so the key to healthy hair growth lies in improving the health of the scalp and hair follicles.
This article looks at the best foods and nutrients to promote hair growth.
Hair is continuously growing and being replaced, and the follicles are constantly creating new hairs from nutrients in the body.
The foods people eat affect how their hair grows and its quality. Certain proteins, fats, vitamins, and minerals are especially important for strong, healthy hair.
Eating a varied, nutritious diet can also boost nail and skin health. The changes will be most noticeable in people who previously had vitamin or nutrient deficiencies. Even so, it may take a while to see the positive results, in terms of hair growth.
The American Academy of Dermatology estimate that people lose 50–100 hairs each day. Shortly afterward, new hairs regrow from the same follicles. Head hair usually grows around 6 inches per year.
Thinning hair and a loss of body hair are two symptoms of a biotin deficiency. Other symptoms include rashes around the face and anus, skin infections, and brittle nails. Biotin deficiencies are rare.
Many dietary supplements for hair growth contain biotin. However, there is little scientific evidencethat biotin improves hair, skin, or nail health.
Examples of other foods that contain biotin:
- meat, including fish
- some vegetables, such as sweet potatoes, spinach, and broccoli
Eggs also contain other compounds that can boost hair growth, including L-lysine, vitamin D, and certain minerals. Read on for more information
Brazil nuts are an excellent source of selenium, a mineral that may help boost hair growth.
Authors of a scientific review note that selenium is involved in creating hair. They report that newly forming hair takes up selenium after receiving trace elements from the blood.
However, too much selenium can cause brittle hair and hair loss, along with nausea, skin rashes, and nervous system problems.
The recommended upper limit for selenium in adults is 400 micrograms (mcg). Brazil nuts are very rich in selenium — one brazil nut offers 68–91 mcg — so people may wish to limit their intake to around four Brazil nuts per day.
Selenium concentrations in plant-based foods vary with geographic location and soil content.
Other foods that contain selenium include:
- meat, including liver and fish
- milk and other dairy products
- breads and cereals
As people age, they may notice that their hair does not grow as quickly as before and that it is less thick. Some follicles may stop producing new hairs, leading to hair thinning or loss.
This results from a combination of genetics and natural aging processes. Hair shafts also become finer and start to lose their color.
Childbirth, stress, thyroid conditions, and a health issue called alopecia can cause more sudden loss of hair. Eating a healthful diet, even one designed to support hair growth, may not address genetic or systemic problems.
Aside from aging, illness, and genetics, malnutrition is one of the most common causes of hair loss. Following a healthy, well-balanced diet can help people maintain typical levels of hair growth and replacement.
Nutritious eating can also help prevent these signs of unhealthy or damaged hair:
- a brittle texture
- visible dandruff
- a dull appearance
- a tendency to break easily