How Your Diet Affects Your Hair

Last updated on : June 16 2021

A woman with curly healthy hair

Diet And Hair

It's no secret that you need a well-balanced diet to keep your body strong and healthy. You may feel the difference when you have had too much greasy takeout. Eating a balanced meal is more likely to satisfy hunger.

Your hair can also be affected by your dietary habits. These may be positive or negative, depending on the kind of food you are using to fuel your body.

Hair Reflects Your Overall Health

Your hair is like a mirror that reflects your overall well-being. Barring any genetic condition or disease, if you take care of yourself - which includes eating and sleeping well, exercising, and hydrating enough - your hair will grow at a healthy pace, give off a beautiful sheen, and be pliable and durable.

Diet plays a leading role in determining the health of your locks. The saying "you are what you eat" applies to your hair care too!

Hair strands are composed of dead cells, but the follicles that produce strands are alive. These cells need proper nourishment to be able to grow out strong and healthy hair.

Read MoreHuman Hair Extension Care Tips to Help Yours Last Longer

Eat A Well-Balanced Diet For Your Best Hair

If you have a poor diet, your hair will change according to what it is missing.

Your hair can become dry and brittle, leading to increased breakage. If your diet is especially lopsided or short on critical nutrients, it can even thin or fall out.

Skin is also affected by a bad diet – which includes your scalp.

You will find that the worst food culprits for your scalp are refined carbohydrates. These consist of white bread, soda, and pasta. Sugary or fried foods will also cause your scalp to become overly greasy.

Generally, If you eat a lot of refined carbohydrates like white bread, soda, and pasta, or often indulge in sugary or fried foods, your roots can become overly greasy from excess oil production on your scalp.

Many people deem a diet full of salad and fruit as ideal; however, with this, you will be missing out on crucial nutrients.

A well-balanced diet is essential, and it must include the wide variety of nutrients your body needs for healthy functioning and growth.

Get Enough Protein

Hair and nails are composed of a structural protein called keratin. It is vital to get enough protein in your diet for proper hair growth.

Your hair has a life cycle that is of three main phases. The active growing period is called anagen, the resting stage is called catagen, and the shedding phase is called telogen.

Hair loss can occur without enough protein because your body will conserve what little protein you do get by transitioning from the growth phase to the resting phase.

If you want to maintain a full and healthy head of hair, you must get enough protein.

Good sources include lean cuts of chicken, turkey, and beef, as well as eggs, milk, and fish. For vegetarians or vegans, you can get functional proteins from legumes (beans, peas, and lentils), nuts, yogurt, and tofu.

B Vitamins for Growth and Loss Prevention

You need vitamins and minerals for overall health. Your hair requires enough Vitamin B to be healthy; however, vitamins A, C, D, and E also play a role.

B vitamins are essential for growth and maintaining the health of your locks. Specifically, you want to get enough B-vitamins B7 (biotin), B3 (niacin), and B9 (folate).

Biotin might help with hair loss. While it isn't scientifically proven to be beneficial in a specific way, a deficiency does seem to affect hair growth and scalp health negatively.

Your body will take biotin from several sources - eggs (specifically the yolk), meat, fish, soy, and broccoli, to name a few. Most people get enough from a balanced diet.

Vitamins as Antioxidants

Vitamins C and E are essential because they act as antioxidants that help neutralize free radicals that damage cells in your body, which includes your hair cells.

Vitamin C is plentiful in a plethora of fruit and veggies. Some of the highest concentrations come in citrus fruits, bell peppers, broccoli, kale, and kiwi. Strawberries and raspberries are other excellent sources if you prefer something a bit sweeter without intaking any unhealthy sugars.

All berries are full of antioxidants. Make yourself a Greek yogurt parfait with a bunch of them, and you will get plenty of protein and a large portion of your daily vitamins and antioxidants all at once.

You can get enough vitamin E from nuts, seeds, vegetable oils, and dark leafy greens. Fortified cereals and grains are also a good source.

Essential Minerals

In addition to vitamins, we also require minerals such as iron, zinc, and magnesium to keep our hair healthy. Our bodies don't make essential minerals, so we have to get them from what we eat.

Iron is particularly important because it circulates oxygen through the bloodstream. This circulation delivers all the nutrients your follicles need for hair production. 

There are many good sources of iron readily available in red meat, fish, and shellfish. Vegetarians and Vegans can get iron from dark leafy greens, lentils, and fortified rice and cereals.

Alopecia, or hair loss, is widely connected to a zinc deficiency in the body. The good news is it isn't hard to get enough zinc since many common foods that contain iron, such as red meat, shellfish, fortified rice, beans, and nuts are also good sources of zinc.

Should I Take a Daily Multivitamin?

Your body prefers getting all of your vitamins and minerals via food instead of multivitamins or supplements. This preference is because your body absorbs essential nutrients more readily through food.

Having said that, if you have a specific deficiency or you're pregnant, supplements and vitamins can help boost your intake.

It is not necessary to take more than your daily recommended dose because your body will not be able to absorb the excess amount. You might even harm yourself if you take too much of a particular vitamin

Healthy Fats

It is a common misconception that fats must be bad for you.

Unsaturated fats contain nutrients that are good for your body and, ultimately, your hair too. Make sure to get enough omega-3 fatty acids in your diet for healthy and shiny hair.

Fatty fish like salmon, tuna, and sardines are excellent sources of omega-3. Otherwise, flax or chia seeds or fortified milk, juice, or grains are excellent sources for those who wish to avoid animal-based products.

Moderation and Combination

You don't want too much or too little of all your essential nutrients. Vitamin A, for example, aids sebum production, which conditions your hair and keeps it moisturized. Too much can become toxic, though.

Likewise, selenium is an essential mineral that acts as an antioxidant to help prevent damage and aid hair growth. You can get it from eating tuna, ham, or cottage cheese. If you get more than you need, the side effects can be weaker strands or even hair loss.

Specific combinations of nutrients - like iron and vitamin C - are ideal because vitamin C helps your body absorb iron. You can get a good dose of protein, iron, and vitamin C from meals such as beef fajitas or sautéed beef and peppers.

The Importance of Hydration

Your hair needs water to grow, the same way as any other organic matter, including the rest of your body. Water hydrates your hair follicles and reduces dryness and brittleness. It also helps keep dandruff at bay by hydrating your scalp. 

You can get water from plenty of sources - fruit, vegetables, and of course (non-alcoholic) beverages.

Avoid Fad Diets

Gradually introduce healthy foods into your diet and cut down on those that are bad for you. You are more likely to succeed with amending your diet this way, as opposed to using a crash or fad diet.

You may lose weight through food deprivation in the short run, but your hair, skin, and nails will start to weaken and become brittle or sallow. This impact on your hair is due to your body prioritizing sending necessary nutrients to vital organs instead.

Your hair may even start falling out in alarming quantities if you lack the nutrients required to maintain healthy growth.  

There is some good news. You will start to see a difference once you go back to eating a healthy, well-balanced diet.


Using hair care products is not enough to ensure healthy, gorgeous hair. You also need to make sure your diet is one that contains enough protein, vitamins, minerals, and water.

However, if you need to make a substantial change to your current diet or have extensive allergies, speak to your healthcare provider or a registered nutritionist first to ensure that these changes are safe for you.

Overall, you can achieve healthy hair that is strong and sleek when maintaining a balanced intake of the right food, and overall looking after your health. 

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