Whether you have an abundance of hair – or not nearly enough of it – keeping your locks in tip-top shape should be a top priority.
Managing your mane can be challenging, particularly as you get older. By the age of 50, 85 percent of men have experienced significant hair loss, according to the American Hair Loss Association.
And it’s not just a problem for guys – women account for 40 percent of those who experience hair loss.
While hair loss is often outside of our control, there are things we can do to keep whatever hair we have healthy.
For example, the foods you put into your mouth have a direct impact on what sits atop your head, says Janet Bond Brill, a Hellertown, Pennsylvania-based registered dietitian.
"Eating a nutritious diet is key to hair health," she says.
Some experts even speculate that the right diet might prevent hair loss from occurring, although to date, research has not found strong evidence to support that hypothesis.
Following are several foods that can boost your hair health.
Avocados, sweet potatoes and cauliflower
A deficiency of the B vitamin biotin has been linked to hair loss. So, make sure you get enough of this nutrient in your diet.
Avocados, sweet potatoes and cauliflower are all rich in biotin. These foods also offer other benefits. For example, avocados are rich in vitamin E, which helps protect the body’s cells from damage associated with free radicals.
Meanwhile, sweet potatoes pack a lot of beta-carotene, which is converted to vitamin A in the body. Vitamin A promotes skin health.
Beans, peas and lentils
Consuming lean protein is essential to the grow and repair of hair molecules.
“Iron and zinc are two minerals that help hair follicles grow,” Brill says.
If you consume meat, you will get plenty of these minerals. But if you are a vegetarian, you need to find another source of such nutrients.
Brill says beans, peas and lentils can help you get the iron and zinc you need for healthy hair.
“Just be sure to pair vegetable proteins with a vitamin C-rich food like a tomato to boost iron absorption,” she says.
Researchers have found that a deficiency of dietary selenium can lead to hair loss and other abnormalities.
Brazil nuts offer one of the richest sources of dietary selenium. Studies also have found them to be good for boosting the health of your heart and thyroid.
Other foods rich in selenium include:
- Yellowfin tuna
- Grass-fed beef
Salmon, mackerel and tuna
A lack of vitamin D can be tough on your tresses.
“Some studies suggest insufficient vitamin D may contribute to hair loss,” Brill says.
Fish such as salmon, mackerel and tuna are rich in vitamin D. If you don’t like fish, you can also find vitamin D in eggs, mushrooms and milk.
If you have sudden hair loss and suspect low vitamin D levels are the culprit, ask your primary care physician to test you in case you need supplementation, Brill says.
Oranges and other citrus fruits
Vitamin C plays an important role in building healthy collagen, the most abundant protein in the body. Collagen plays a key role in keeping hair healthy.
Many citrus fruits contain high levels of vitamin C. They include: