Healthy looking hair is in general a sign of overall good health and good hair-care practices.
Hair nutrition is therefore a vital part of any self-care treatment regime.
Nutrition can have a big impact on a multiple things…
Nutrition is a complex subject, and an object of a lot of controversy.
The effects of proper nutrition is often slow to appear, particularly in hair, and since you can never see instant impact, like for instance, feeling the immediate effect of a morphine pain injection, a continuous sustainable healthy nutrition practice is advised.
Illness or poor immunity smoulders for years without you knowing or feeling it, and then suddenly one day strike down…. (as the Chinese proverb says: death by a thousand cuts).
Most healthy eating individuals have adequate nutrients in their diet.
Proper nutrition results in healthy hair growth, with hair fibres being thick, strong, and shiny in appearance.
However some do not have access to good nutrition, or suffers from medical illnesses that predispose them to nutritional deficiency which influence skin, scalp and hair. Health concerns such as stress, trauma, medications, medical conditions, heavy metals, smoking can adversely affect the hair.
Congenital heart disease, neuromuscular disease, chronic illnesses like diabetes, malignancy, alcoholism, and advanced age can cause hair to change colour, be weakened, or lost.
Poor malnutrition typically correlates with hair loss symptoms, hair thinning, dull, dry or brittle hair, slow hair growth rate, and a fragile hair shaft.
Stress and hair…
Of more adverse impact on hair health, are stress hormones, which can interfere in biological processes, even when you follow a healthy nutrient intake, causing major problems for wellbeing, with dire physiological, neurological and biochemical consequences.
Chronic stress caused by daily demands can lead to continually raised levels of adrenaline and cortisol, which boosts sugar levels in the blood and curbs immune, digestive, reproductive and growth processes.
Physical stress: a real stressor (a short-term physical danger) activates a survival stress response, resulting in an adrenaline rush, leading to high energy, exhilarated blood pressure, intensified learning and memory, and shuts off all non-essential systems, such as digestion, reproductive and growth systems – all of which engineered to maximize your chances of survival. Once the physical threat is gone, all systems are quickly restored to normal working function.
Psychological stress: elicits the same responses as physical stress but in far higher and continual dosises. Worrying about paying bills, going through a divorce, moving home, juggling responsibility around family and job schedules – are all chronic, psychological stress – created by yourself.
All these psychological issues, result in an unreal and chronic stress responses, triggering an unnecessary release of hormones (cortisol and adrenaline) manifesting as insomnia (lack of sleep), suppressed immune system, slowed metabolism, high blood pressure, inflammation and hypertension
In hair, physical stress manifests as hair loss. Three types of hair loss that can be associated with high stress levels are:
Telogen effluvium – when significant stress pushes large numbers of hair follicles into a resting phase. Within a few months, affected hairs might fall out suddenly when simply combing or washing your hair. Some hair loss is normal, but telogen effluvium results in excessive hair loss due to a disruption in the natural growth and rest cycle of hair.
Chronic stress is a major contributor to chronic telogen effluvium. It’s thought that stress somehow changes the chemistry of the hair follicles, resulting in too many hair follicles in the resting phase at one time.
Trichotillomania – is an irresistible urge to pull out hair from your scalp, eyebrows or other areas of your body. Hair pulling can be a way of dealing with negative or uncomfortable feelings, such as stress, tension, loneliness, boredom or frustration.
Alopecia areata – a variety of factors are thought to cause alopecia areata, possibly including severe stress. With alopecia areata, the body’s immune system attacks the hair follicles, causing hair loss.
Generally, if you can reduce stress, you can restore the natural cycle and promote healthy hair growth. If chronic stress is a problem, bringing your stress levels under control can help restore your body’s natural hair growth process.
Further research on mice suggests that chronic stress may contribute to graying hair by causing DNA damage and reducing the supply of pigment-producing cells in hair follicles.
A steady supply of nutrients like essential vitamins, minerals, healthy fats, electrolytes, amino acids and antioxidants all help your brain handle stress better, therefore benefiting your entire body.
A truly systematic and integral approach towards health must thus be taken due the many factors that affect the eventual efficacy of any treatment.
Hair ultimately reflects the overall condition of the body
Hair is the fastest growing natural tissue in the human body: the average rate of growth is 0.5cm – 1.7cm per month depending on ethnicity. Optimal growth occurs from age 15 to 30 and reduces from age 40 to 50.
The speed of hair growth is based upon genetics, gender, age, hormones. It may be reduced by nutrient deficiency (anorexia, anemia, zinc deficiency) and hormonal fluctuations (menopause, polycystic ovaries, thyroid disease).
Hair receive nutrients and oxygen from blood supply to the dermal papilla based at the bottom of the hair bulb, which supplies blood to the epidermis through a network of connected sensory nerve endings.
Certain vitamins, minerals and amino-acids are crucial to these metabolic pathways and in keratin protein (which hair consists of) metabolism.
It’s also possible that, when a body is in good health, it can maximise the genetic growth cycle by taking the proper blend of amino acids and B-vitamins.
When the body is under threat, it reprioritises its processes: the vital organs will be attended first and hair follicles may not be considered a priority. While not all hair growth issues originate from malnutrition, it is a valuable symptom in diagnosis.
A blood test combined with a clinical hair examination can ascertain which nutrients are deficient. It is then a case of replacing those to the levels in which they will function correctly.
Once the optimal levels have been reached, the hair loss will cease, hair growth restored to normal functioning, hair will gain back it’s lutre, thicken and regain its strength. Should these levels relapse the hair loss, hair thinning, dull, dry or weakened hair will recur.
Do supplements work?
Healthy hair growth requires a complexity of nutrients and a ready supply of oxygen, but comparatively few authoritative studies on supplements have proved that they can thicken hair or make it grow faster which make all supplements for such proven of nil value.
However a balanced, bioavailable supplement formula to protect and maintain hair growth is vital.
There is a rather adequate research basis to justify product effectiveness claims for a vitamin, mineral and amino-acid complex designed to supply the nutrients needed by healthy hair.
Like any other cell within the body, hair cells need a balance of proteins, fatty acids, vitamins and minerals, and complex carbohydrates to function at their best.
Eat healthy as far as you can to promote healthy hair, and take supplements when you believe you have a deficiency of some sort – and if you believe you do not have access to wholesome organic healthy food that contains all the vital elements for health (not only hair but also for the entire body).
Below is a chart of all nutrients you may need with some supplement recommendations that passed the test for efficacy.
NUTRIENT INTAKE RECOMMENDATIONS FOR HEALTHY HAIR
The sources of where you can find vitamins and minerals mention here are only listings of the foods recommended as informed by academic studies done by Orikhu. Meaning not all food sources are included for a said vitamin or mineral or acid group. If a food source is not mentioned on this chart it means you should stay away from it for a very good reason – for which an explanation may be found somewhere else on this website.
Vitamin A (Retinol, retinal, retinyl esters, and retinoic acid)
- Acts as a natural antioxidant
- Keeps tissues and skin healthy
- Important to bone growth and development
- Forms a protective sheathing around nerve fibers
- Promotes healthy hair, nails, skin and healing
- Essential for immune functions and night vision
- Plays an important role in bone growth and in the immune system
- Critical for epithelial cell health (epithelial is the thin tissue forming the outer layer of a body’s surface and lining the alimentary canal and other hollow structures)
Vitamin A as Beta-carotene:
- Beta-carotene is converted to vitamin A as the body needs it
- Carotenoids act as antioxidants
- Carotenoids alpha carotene and lycopene seem to lower lung cancer risk
For hair: Vitamin A plays a major role in repairing damage to hair, and keeps scalp moist and irritation-free by promoting the production of scalp oil (sebum production).
While healthy Vit A amounts can stimulate hair growth, large doses of vitamin A can cause scalp over-oil issues and the shedding of hair. This means balance is key with vitamin A
Recommended dosage: 700 – 900 mcg per day
Food Sources: Carrots, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, dark green leafy vegetables, spinach, broccoli and swiss chard, squash, cantaloupe, bell pepper, Chinese cabbage, peaches, dried apricots
Mangoes, beef, liver, eggs, shrimp, fish, fortified milk, butter, cheddar cheese, Swiss cheese
Vitamin B1 (Thiamin)
- Turns carbohydrates into energy
- Vital in the complicated process of converting fatty acids into proteins and enzymes; both of which enhance ability to digest certain foods
- Critical for nerve function
- Needed for healthy skin, hair, muscles, and brain
For hair: Reduced levels of B1, B2 can contribute to the undernourishment of hair-follicle cells.
Recommended dosage: 25-50 mg daily
Food sources: Raw or cultured dairy products, eggs, beef, chicken, turkey, tuna, pork chops, wild-caught fish, poultry, brewer’s yeast, sunflower seeds, green leafy vegetables, asparagus, lettuce, mushrooms, spinach, peas, brussels sprouts, tomatoes, watermelons, acorn squash, pineapple
Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)
- Helps convert food into energy
- Needed for healthy skin, hair, blood, and brain
For hair: Reduced levels of B1, B2 can contribute to the undernourishment of hair-follicle cells.
Recommended dosage: 25-50 mg daily
Food sources: Raw or cultured dairy products, eggs, chicken, turkey, beef, mackerel, tuna, pork chops, wild-caught fish, poultry, brewer’s yeast, sunflower seeds, Almonds, tempeh, green leafy vegetables, asparagus, lettuce, mushrooms, spinach, peas, brussels sprouts, tomatoes, watermelons, acorn squash, pineapple
Vitamin B3 (Niacin)
- Helps convert food into energy.
- Essential for healthy skin, hair, blood cells, brain, and nervous system.
For hair: Responsible for adding shine and luster to hair. The deficiency of this vitamin may lead to dangerous symptoms along with brittle and lifeless hair.
Recommended dosage: 25-50 mg daily
Food sources: Raw or cultured dairy products, eggs, chicken, turkey, beef, tuna, salmon, pork chops, wild-caught fish, poultry, brewer’s yeast, sunflower seeds, green leafy vegetables, avocados, asparagus, lettuce, mushrooms, spinach, peas, brussels sprouts, tomatoes, watermelons, acorn squash, sweet potato, potatoes, carrots, almonds, celery, turnips, peaches, pineapple
Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic Acid)
- Helps convert food into energy
- Helps make lipids (fats), neurotransmitters, steroid hormones, and hemoglobin
For hair: B5 gives hair flexibility, strength and shine and helps prevent greying, thinning and loss
Food sources: Broccoli, avocado, mushrooms, sweet potato, sunflower seeds, cauliflower, green leafy vegetables, eggs, squash, strawberries, liver
Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxal-5-Phosphate)
- Aids in lowering homocysteine levels
- May reduce the risk of heart disease
- Helps convert tryptophan to niacin and serotonin (a neurotransmitter that plays a key role in sleep, appetite, and moods)
- Helps make red blood cells
- Influences cognitive abilities and immune function
For hair: B6 may help prevent dandruff.
Food sources: Brown rice, green leafy vegetables, sunflower seeds, potato, banana, trout, spinach, tomatoes, avocado, walnuts, tuna, salmon, chicken, beef, egg yolk and liver, pineapple
Vitamin B7 (Biotin)
- A water-soluble B vitamin, formerly known as vitamin H or coenzyme R
- Coenzyme R is referred to as Carboxybiotin responsible for processes of carbohydrate oxidation and fatty-acid synthesis
- Biotin is produced in healthy gut flora
- Significant in a number of metabolic processes and enzymatic reactions
- Helps convert food into energy
- Synthesize glucose
- Necessary for the proper metabolism of protein, fat, and carbohydrates
For hair: A study conducted at Harvard University suggests that biotin is one of the most important nutrients for preserving hair strength, texture, and function.
Recommended dosage: 500-1000 mcg per day.
Food sources: liver, egg yolk, yeast, salmon, liver, pork, mushrooms, avocados, cauliflower, green leafy vegetables, carrots, papaya, raspberries, bananas, walnuts, almonds, sunflower seeds, sweet potato
Vitamin B9 (Folic acid + folate)
Folate is the naturally occurring form found in foods. Folic acid is the synthetic form used in commercially available supplements and fortified foods.
- Vital for new cell creation
- Essential for the maintenance of healthy methionine levels in the body.
- Inadequate folate status is associated with neural tube defects and some cancers, anemia, apathy, fatigue, and graying hair
For hair: A decrease in folic acid may contribute to decreased hair-follicle cell division and growth.
Recommended dosage: 400 – 800 mcg per day.
Food sources: Green leafy vegetables, asparagus, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, citrus fruits, spinach, kale, green peas, avocado, lettuce, tomato juice, banana, papaya, organ meats, pineapple
Vitamin B12 (Methylcobalamin)
- Produced primarily by bacteria and archaea
- Unlike most vitamins, which are quickly processed by the liver and excreted after consumption, your body can store excess vitamin B12 in the liver to use when it needs it.
- Symptoms of insufficient vitamin B12 include poor memory and ulcers
For hair: Plays an important role in promoting healthy hair growth, and helps prevent the loss of hair
Food sources: Meat, liver, fortified foods, eggs, chicken, milk, trout, salmon, sardines, mackerel, cheese, whey powder, yogurt
Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid)
- Integral in the formation of collagen (a protein that gives structure to bones; cartilage, muscle, and blood vessels)
- Helps to maintain capillaries, bones, teeth
- Aids in the absorption of iron
- Helps make the neurotransmitters serotonin and norepinephrine
- Acts as an antioxidant, neutralizing unstable molecules that can damage cells
- Bolsters the immune system
For hair: Without enough collagen, even the thickest hair can become weak and brittle
Food sources: Dark green vegetables: spinach, broccoli and swiss chard, lemon, guava
mandarin, strawberries, grapefruit, kiwi, orange, grapefruit, brussels sprouts, cantaloupe, papaya, broccoli, sweet potato, pineapple, cauliflower, kale, parsley, green peppers, watermelon, cucumber, mango, tomatoes, cabbage, berries, pineapple
Vitamin D3 (Cholecalciferol)
- Fat soluble – critical in the body’s ability to digest and utilise calcium and phosphorus
- Important in the formation, function, and health of normal bone and tooth structures
- Helps maintain normal blood levels of calcium and phosphorus, which strengthen bones
- Helps form teeth and bones.
- Low vitamin D can affect the severity of patients with Alopecia Areata (a non-scarring alopecia)
Technically, vitamin D is a collection of vitamins, all of which play an important role in promoting strong overall health.
For hair: Vitamin D deficiency is one of several causes of telogen effluvium – a stress-related condition that can cause you to rapidly shed hair.
Sources: Created as a byproduct of cholecalciferol synthesis when skin is exposed to sun. Quick sun exposure sessions of 10 to 15 minutes each will help you get all of the vitamin D benefits without damaging your skin
Food sources: Fortified foods, mushrooms, salmon, mackerel, sardines, tuna, eggs
Vitamin E (d-alpha-tocopheryl)
- Functions primarily as an antioxidant, combating free radicals
- Promote healthy skin and hair
- Important for building and repairing body tissue
- Protects eyes, heart and internal organs
- Plays a huge role in promoting the growth and recovery of skin and hair
- Protects vitamin A and certain lipids from damage
- Diets rich in vitamin E may help prevent Alzheimer’s disease
- Vitamin E and selenium work together to prevent attacks on cell membranes
For hair: Vitamin E is arguably the most important vitamin for promoting hair growth, so much so that it’s widely used in homemade topical formulas (active ingredient is the antioxidant tocotrienols) to encourage the rapid growth of thick, strong and healthy hair. Helps to maintain the integrity of cell membranes of hair follicles. Provides physical stability to cell membranes and reduces peroxide concentration in the hair cell
Recommended dose: 400 to 800 IU daily
Food sources: Spinach, broccoli, avocados, almonds, hazelnuts, fish, sunflower seeds, dried herbs, green leafy vegetables, olives, blueberries, most nuts and seeds, tomatoes
- Necessary for iodine metabolism, located in the thyroid gland
- Case studies indicated that selenium deficiency can lead to cancer, heart disease, and poor hair growth.
- Acts as a natural antioxidant, neutralises unstable molecules that can damage cells
- Essential for the activity of antioxidant enzymes like glutathione peroxidase – GPX – which works synergistically with vitamin E in the reduction of external peroxide free radicals
For hair: Stimulate healthy hair growth
Recommended dose: 25-50 mcg daily
Food sources: Almonds, brazil nuts, oysters, seafood, red meats, organ meats, pumpkin seeds, wheat germ, egg yolks, sometimes plants (depends on soil content)
- An essential electrolyte responsible for more than 300 biochemical reactions
- Effective in relieving and treating allergic reactions
For hair: Magnesium promotes follicle health, which results in healthy hair growth. Your hair needs this to remain healthy and grow stronger. Also known for to detoxify and cleanse the dermis and scalp. Addresses problems like dandruff and hair graying, and effective in slowing balding and restoring hair health
Recommended dose: Use magnesium oil to massage in hair on a regular basis.
Food sources: Nuts, seeds, almonds, raw cacao, avocado, leafy green veggies, cruciferous veggies like broccoli, salmon, quinoa, wild rice, cultured yoghurt, pineapple
- Needed for muscle, heart and digestive system health
- Builds bone, supports synthesis and function of blood cells
For hair: Stimulates cell mediators that act on cell-membrane phospholipids in hair-follicle cells.
Recommended dose: take calcium with magnesium to maintain healthy calcium levels in the body. Without extra magnesium to balance it, large doses of calcium may be harmful. The recommended dosage is 100-200 mg of calcium per day.
Food sources: Dark green vegetables: kale, spinach, broccoli and swiss chard, cultured yogurt
salmon, avocados, seeds and nuts, eggs, canned fish with bones (salmon, sardines, thyme, oregano, dill, cinnamon.
- Essential body structure building block
- One of the most critical nutrients to remain youthful and energetic
- Necessary for collagen production
- Improves joint flexibility
- Makes cells more permeable, meaning it allows toxins and metabolic waste products to easily move out the cells, while essential nutrients and hydration can be moved in
- It’s a calcium phosphate dissolver, with a remarkable ability to break up the bad calcium that’s at the root of degenerative diseases
For hair: Provides the sulfur needed to produce collagen and keratin, thus highly noted to contribute to exceptional strength and thickness of the hair, skin and nails.
Recommended dose: Sulfur is present in many natural unprocessed foods, but it’s quickly lost during the cooking process so supplementation is advised. Start with one teaspoon of MSM powder in 16 ounces of water, and gradually work your way up to 2 to 3 tablespoons per day to see some really impressive results.
Food sources: Protein-rich foods, such as meats, fish, poultry, nuts
- Helps prevent Ovarian cancer
- A connective tissue mineral responsible for collagen, connective tissue growth and health of skin, bones, hair, fingernails, ligaments, arterial walls, throat walls, digestive tract walls, uterine lining membranes
- Silicon eliminates toxic levels of aluminum, lead and mercury
Food sources: Brazil nuts, pistachio, cashew, almond, parsley, spinach, cucumber
- Responsible for helping to stabilise cell-membrane structures
- Assists in the breakdown and removal of superoxide radicals
- Low calorie diets are usually an indicating factor in young females that zinc levels maybe low
For hair: Essential for DNA and RNA production, leads to normal follicle-cell division. Topical zinc applications have proven to be effective in the reduction of hair loss activity for 5 alpha reductase type 2 (5-AR type II), enzymes involved in steroid metabolism.
Recommended dose: If taken as a supplement, the recommended daily dosage in the form of zinc amino acid chelate is 15 mg.
Food sources: Meat, eggs and seafood
- Required for several enzymes such as carboxypeptidase, liver alcohol dehydrogenase, and carbonic anhydrase
- Helps form many enzymes and proteins and create new cells
- Frees vitamin A from storage in the liver
- Needed for immune system, taste, smell, and wound healing
- When taken with certain antioxidants, zinc may delay the progression of age-related macular degeneration
- Iron deficiency causes microcytic and hypochromic anemia, also affecting other organs including the skin and pilo sebaceous follicles
Recommended dose: 8.7 mg for males over 18 years, l14.8 mg females 19 – 50 years, 8.7 mg for women over 50 years.
For hair: When you don’t have enough iron, your body can’t produce the hemoglobin in your blood. Hemoglobin carries oxygen for the growth and repair of cells in your body, including the cells that stimulate hair growth. Hair loss caused by a deficiency of iron, appears in the form of male or female pattern baldness, however, hair loss due to iron deficiency is not permanent.
With treatment, you can help reverse both the iron deficiency and hair loss.
Food sources: Walnuts, almonds, pumpkin seeds, oysters, beef, lamb, liver, poultry, eggs, sweet potatoes, spinach, kale, dairy products, pineapple
- Supports thyroid hormone production
For hair: Suboptimal thyroid functioning can lead to abnormal hair growth.
Recommended dose: 112 to 225 mcg of iodine (in the form of kelp) per day
Food sources: bananas, carrots and fish, seaweed, kelp, fish like salmon, cod, sardines, shrimp, tuna, mackerel, dairy, eggs, iodized salt
- Key component in collagen production
- Required component of many redox enzymes, including cytochrome c oxidase
- Red blood cell production, nerve and immune system function, collagen formation
- Acts as an antioxidant
For hair: Because copper plays an important role in melanin formation, a lack of copper can affect a person’s hair color (going grey)
Food sources: mushrooms, turnips, dark chocolate (cocoa), liver, seafood, oysters, nuts, seeds, organ meats, some fruits and vegetables, spirulina
PROTEINS (AMINO ACIDS)
Almost Pure Protein (80% and higher protein content)
Poultry (chicken + turkey)
Fish (tuna + halibut + tilapia + haddock + flounder + shrimp)
Whey protein supplements
Eggs (60% protein content but has all the amino acids needed)
Red meat like beef has only 53% protein content
- Provides a high-quality protein with a high degree of bioavailability
- Essential macronutrient that serves many functions
- High-protein diets also help with weight loss
- Turkey contains high amounts of tryptophan. This amino acid helps synthesise serotonin, an important neurotransmitter
- Eggs have high-quality protein because they contain all the amino acids
- Shrimp contain antioxidants such as astaxanthin, which reduces inflammation and oxidative damage
- Tuna is very low in calories and fat, which makes it an almost pure-protein food with a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, which fight inflammation
- Alaskan halibut is also an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, which makes it an effective anti-inflammatory food.
For hair: Chicken and turkey are great sources of niacin, vitamin B6, selenium, phosphorus, and zink needed for healthy hair growth. For a high-protein, low-fat option, choose cod, halibut, haddock or flounder – loaded with vitamin B12, potassium, magnesium, selenium and other nutrients. Shrimp are rich in vitamin D, niacin and vitamin B12. They also contain iron, phosphorus, copper and selenium. Tuna provides a good source of B-vitamins, plus minerals like magnesium, phosphorus and potassium with antioxidant properties due to high amounts of selenium. 3.5 ounces (100 grams) of tuna contain 52% of the daily selenium value. Halibut is high in selenium with good amounts of vitamins B3, B6 and B12, as well as minerals such as magnesium, phosphorus and potassium. Tilapia is also a great source of B-vitamins and minerals such as selenium, phosphorus and potassium. Cod is a great source of vitamins B3, B6 and B12, omega 3 fatty acids, and contains selenium, magnesium, phosphorus and potassium. Alaskan pollock is an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids. It also contains large amounts of choline and vitamin B12
Recommended dose: Generally, 0.37 grams per pound of body weight, or 0.8 g/kg – physically active individuals need 0.6–0.9 grams per pound, or 1.4–2 g/kg
- Three ounces (85 grams) of roasted, skinless chicken breast will provide you with about 27 grams of protein and 140 calories.
- A chicken’s nutrient profile is often affected by its diet. Pasture-raised chickens have higher antioxidant and omega-3 levels
- Three ounces (85 grams) of roasted, skinless turkey breast contains about 24 grams of protein and 115 calories
- Most of the vitamins, minerals and antioxidants in eggs are found in the yolk – egg whites contain at least 60% of the protein. A one-cup (243-gram) serving of egg whites gives you 26 grams of protein and only about 115 calories
- One ounce (28 grams) of dried fish can provide 18 grams of protein
- Three ounces (85 grams) of shrimp contain 17 grams of protein and only 90 calories – Protein content in 100 grams = 20 grams
- Three ounces (85 grams) of raw yellowfin tuna can pack about 20 grams of protein, with only 92 calories – in 100 grams: 23 grams (92% of calories)
- Tuna tends to contain some mercury, but its high selenium content helps protect against mercury toxicity. Eating canned tuna once a week is likely safe
- Halibut is a great source of complete protein. A half fillet (159 grams) of halibut will give you 42 grams of protein and 223 calories – 100 grams: 27 grams (81% of calories).
- Three ounces (85 grams) of tilapia can pack up to 20 grams of protein with only 110 calories – 100 grams: 26 grams (81% of calories)
- Three ounces (85 grams) of cod have about 20 grams of protein with only 90 calories – 100 grams: 23 grams (93% of calories)
- Three ounces (85 grams) of pollock contain 20 grams of protein and about 100 calories – 100 grams: 24 grams (89% of calories)
Other protein food sources (below 25% protein) : Almonds, oats, Hemp, Nut milk and nut butter, milk, Quinoa, cottage cheese, Parmesan cheese , swiss cheese, mozzarella and cheddar, greek yogurt, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, pumpkin seeds
Amino Acids Important For Healthy Hair
Keratin is a sulphur-rich protein, the building block of hair. When a group of amino acids get together it keratinise to create keratin before hair emerges from the scalp.
Amino acids (all protein) play a big role in creating red blood cells. The more red blood cells you have in your body the better, because red blood cells deliver nutrients to hair follicles to stimulate growth.
There are over 20 different amino acids, but there are five amino acids that are considered the best when it comes to producing keratin: cysteine, lysine, arginine, taurine and methionine.
L-Methionine (found in eggs and fish + some meats)
One of four sulfur-containing amino acids, supports hair strength by providing adequate amounts of sulfur to hair cells. Sulfur is required for healthy connective tissue formation. Hair requires sulfur for normal growth and appearance.
Methionine is an essential amino acid that helps make pre-collagen (the precursor to collagen). It also works as an antioxidant to help prevent an imbalance called oxidation stress.
Not only is methionine a great amino acid for hair loss, studies have suggested that it may even play a role in slowing down grey hair.
Most doctors agree that cysteine is the most important amino acid for hair growth. Of all the amino acids, it makes up the biggest component of keratin.
Cysteine is great for improving hair strength. It provides sulfur to hair cells which can improve hair’s texture, elasticity and strength. Stronger hair grows longer, faster. Your hair growth becomes much more noticeable as cysteine gets to work.
This amino acid is found in foods like eggs, chicken, broccoli, milk and yogurt. It’s an essential amino acid, meaning that your body doesn’t produce it. So make sure your diet includes it.
Interesting to note that male pattern baldness is less common in Asians than Americans. Is this in part due to he Asian diet being rich in L-Lysine -an enzyme inhibiting amino acid in vegetables and herbs affecting 5-alpha-reductase in some way.
Lysine is an essential amino acid with restorative properties. It stimulates collagen production, a big role considering collagen production drop pretty drastically as you age. When your body is producing more collagen, your hair will be more resilient and it will look much healthier.
Many women who increase their Lysine intake see bouncier hair with more volume. It’s definitely a key amino acid that you want to make sure you’re getting enough of. It can be found in seafood, cheese, butter, beef, pork, chicken, eggs, spirulina, vegetables and fruit, and most nuts.
L-Taurine is one of the four amino acids regarded as one of the most important for hair health. It is a building block for proteins such as keratin which is what hair fiber is made of. A deficiency in L-Taurine can causes hair to lose its colour, keratin strength and even result in hair loss
It is one of the most abundant amino acids in the body, with particularly high concentrations in the heart tissue, where it is thought to help maintain cell membranes and regulate heartbeats.
It is not an essential amino acid, since our bodies can make it from vitamin B6, methionine, and cysteine – however, supplementation can modestly but reliably reduce blood pressure in people with congestive heart failure, hypertension, or prehypertension.
Found naturally in fish and meat.
Arginine is a non-essential amino acid (your body naturally produces it). Arginine’s role is to maintain healthy blood flow.
The arginine amino acid is huge for hair growth as it stimulates blood circulation around hair follicles. That helps all the nutrients your body makes and digests to get to your scalp. When blood is circulating well, you’ll have a much better hair growth environment.
Although your body makes it, Arginine is also found in nuts, red meat, and dairy products.
From the Greek word, kólla, meaning glue, collagen is the most abundant type of protein found in the human body. It makes up our connective tissue, providing the structure for skin, tendons, joint cartilage, organs, bones, and other parts.
Collagen is a polypeptide made up of several amino acids, including proline and glycine. Your body actually contains more than 28 different types of collagen, but three of these-types I, II, and III-make up 80-90 percent.
Once you hit mid-20s, collagen levels begin to decline. As compared to those in their 20s, people in their 80s have about four times the collagen breakdown. That’s why age brings wrinkles, creases, and saggy areas around the mouth and neck.
For hair: As you age, your body’s natural levels of collagen decrease, which may lead to thinning and shedding hair. Research shows that collagen may support and increase hair-building proteins in the body. This can help strengthen hair strands, promote hair growth and prevent hair loss.
Collagen may even help prevent the appearance of gray hairs by supporting the healthy structure of the hair follicle, where the pigment of the hair color is produced.
Can you take a supplement: As you age, the natural levels of collagen in your body decrease, which is why taking a supplement sounds inviting.
Your body actually makes collagen on its own, and can’t absorb collagen supplements as a whole, so taking a collagen supplements won’t directly promote hair growth, or skin or bone health.
However, taking a collagen supplement can prompt your body to produce more collagen. In fact, one clinical study found that collagen benefits bones and joints by providing a bioavailable source of these amino acids, which helps the body to naturally produce more collagen.
Some studies report that collagen supplements have been effective in the treatment of dry brittle hair by supporting healthy moisture levels within the hair, but this is debatable, and more studies are underway.
Along with the body’s natural collagen production declining with age, modern lifestyle factors like stress, poor diet, and gut health imbalances, can all decrease the body’s ability to make it.
Vitamin C and collagen must be consumed together, as, if you have too little vitamin C in your body, not enough collagen can be produced. Vitamin C thus helps your body produce more collagen.
The three most important types of collagen:
- Type I collagen comprises 90% of skin, hair, nails, organs, bone, ligaments, eyes, tendons and teeth, making it the best for skin and beauty. It’s the strongest variety of collagen. If you’re looking for a collagen for skin health, type 1 is a top choice since it’s literally a building block of the skin making it great for anti-aging and wound healing
- Type II collagen is a major component of joint cartilage. It naturally contains chondroitin and hyaluronic acid-substances known to support joint health. Type II collagen and chondroitin renew cartilage by providing building blocks and stimulating the body’s production of collagen. Chondroitin may also help fight inflammation and block an enzyme that breaks down cartilage. Hyaluronic acid, naturally found in synovial fluid, lubricates joints.
- Type III collagen applies to fibrous protein in bone, cartilage, dentin, tendon, and other connective tissues. It’s a fibrillar collagen, a major component of skin and organs. In the body, type 3 collagen is often found in the same locations as type 1. It is often in supplements designed to boost skin elasticity and firmness. Type 3 collagen as well as type 1 collagen also help to maintain the functional integrity of the heart.
Sources of collagen
You can obtain many types of collagen from your diet as well as supplements.
Collagen supplements are mostly hydrolyzed, meaning broken down into collagen peptides, which still contain the same nutrients and benefits as the original collagen, but the process of hydrolysis makes the collagen more easy to absorb. Hydrolyzed collagen readily dissolves in hot or cold water so it’s easy for the body to digest and process the collagen.
Type 1 collagen can be found in supplements containing fish collagen, which mainly contains type 1 collagen as well as several amino acids, including proline, glycine and hydroxyproline. Fish or marine collagen has a reputation for being easily absorbable by the body.
Egg collagen, which is located in the whites and shells of eggs, contains mostly type 1 collagen, but also contains type 4 along with type 3 and type 10.
FAT (FATTY ACIDS)
For hair: fatty acids are vital nutrients essential for hair growth, thus finding low or non fat diets can result in hair loss as the lack of fat causes the skin and scalp to dry up. These are vital nutrients that support follicular health. When the follicle is not healthy, hair loss or thinning occurs.
Bad fats can also encourage the production of DHT, which is derived from testosterone. In large quantities it can attack the hair follicles, causing it to narrow and shrink which causes hair loss and or hair thinning.
Are trans fatty acids that appears in foods that contain partially hydrogenated vegetable oils. Found in: fried foods (French fries, doughnuts, deep-fried fast foods), margarine (stick and tub), vegetable shortening, baked goods (cookies, cakes, pastries), processed snack foods (crackers, microwave popcorn).
Moderately good fats
Doctors consider monounsaturated fat and polyunsaturated fat more heart-healthy fats. These are fats that are better choices for your diet.
Foods that primarily contain these healthier fats tend to be liquid when they’re at room temperature. They should not be heated as it is then when it becomes toxic for the body forming free radicals and inflammation.
Foods containing monounsaturated fats include: nuts (almonds, cashews, peanuts, pecans), vegetable oils (olive oil, peanut oil), peanut butter and almond butter, avocado, sesame oil.
Polyunsaturated fats are known as essential fats because the body cannot make them and needs them from foods. Plant-based foods and oils are the primary source of this fat.
Foods containing polyunsaturated fats include: Walnuts, seeds (sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds), vegetable oils (corn oil, safflower oil, sesame oil, sunflower oil).
Best Fat: Omega-3 fatty acids (ALA, EPA, and DHA)
Omega-3s appear to not only decrease the risk of coronary artery disease, but also help lower blood pressure levels and guard against irregular heartbeats.
A regular intake can play a positive role in your health. They are incorporated into cell membranes (such as heart cells) and help support flexible cell membranes, which help with production of sebum and provide a natural hair conditioner
Sources: krill oil (also contains naturally occurring astaxanthin a high potent antioxidant), fish like salmon, sardines, and mackerel, ground flaxseed, macadamia, walnuts, Cod liver oil, Herring, Oysters, Chia seeds
Recommended dose: 4g of combined EPA and DHA per day by eating fatty fish (280 g of salmon) or by taking fish oil softgels (with food, to reduce the chance of fishy burps).
Cellular damage is bad for overall health, and will often manifest first in skin and hair.
When free radical levels versus antioxidants is out of balance, your body experiences oxidative stress, which speeds up the ageing process – because free radicals attack the DNA cells and proteins important for keeping skin, hair and nails in prime condition.
In the skin, this causes a loss in elasticity by damaging collagen fibres bit by bit until you’ve completely lost that shiny, fresh-faced bounce to your face.
For hair: The proteins that keep your hair healthy, shiny and strong take a huge hit from free radicals. With oxidative stress kicking the ageing process into overdrive, hair can become rougher, lose its lustre, and start greying earlier. There is also evidence that suggests free radical related damage can lead to thinning and hair loss.
Best Antioxidants to take
Vitamins A, C and E are antioxidants that enhance skin cell turnover and collagen synthesis.
Vitamin C helps reduce the damage caused by free radicals and UV exposure. Over time, free radicals can damage collagen and elastin, the fibers that support skin structure. Vitamin E also helps reduce the skin effects of free radicals and UV exposure.
One of the most powerful antioxidants is glutathione, which is produced by the body. Glutathione is made from three amino acids: glycine, glutamate, and cysteine. It also contains sulfur, which is what makes it so effective in all cells, including hair.
Food sources to help your body make more glutathione: Asparagus, Peaches, Walnuts, Spinach, Tomatoes, Garlic, Onions, Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, kale, collards, and cabbage, Avocados,
Superfoods: may be effective in the control of biological aging and contain high antioxidants: red skin prunes, red skin apples, red skin grapes, raspberries, strawberries, blueberries, broccoli, sprouts, garlic, ginger, super green mixes, chlorella, spirulina, micro-algae extracts such as astaxanthin, and medicinal herbs.
Water: is important in general bodily health and potentially good hair health. Water aids food digestion.
CIRCULATION OF OXYGEN AND NUTRIENTS TO THE HAIR
Even a perfectly balanced diet with supplements would be ineffective without adequate blood flow to the hair.
Reduced blood flow can cause unpleasant symptoms, such as pain, muscle cramps, numbness, digestive issues and coldness in the hands or feet.
Hair loss may conceivably be caused or exacerbated by a deficient blood supply, therefore it may be beneficial to increase the circulation.
This can be achieved through topical treatments that stimulate nitric oxide production or angiogenesis.
The stimulatory effects of below foods can be beneficial.
Caffeine has been shown by several studies to reduce hair loss caused by dihydrotestosterone, the in vivo studies were successful topically, but the effects of oral caffeine have not been tested at this time.
Taurine has also been shown by in vitro testing to protect the hair from TGFβ-1 induced apoptosis.
Cinnamon improved blood vessel dilation and blood flow in the coronary artery, which supplies blood to the heart. Cinnamon can effectively reduce blood pressure in humans by relaxing your blood vessels. This improves circulation and keeps your heart healthy
Cayenne pepper gets its spicy flavor from a phytochemical called capsaicin. Capsaicin promotes blood flow to tissues by lowering blood pressure and stimulating the release of nitric oxide and other vasodilators — or compounds that help expand your blood vessels
Pomegranates are particularly high in polyphenol antioxidants and nitrates, which are potent vasodilators. Consuming pomegranate — as juice, raw fruit or supplement — may improve blood flow and oxygenation of muscle tissue.
Onions are an excellent source of flavonoid antioxidants, which benefit heart health. This vegetable improves circulation by helping your arteries and veins widen when blood flow increases.
Studies suggest that garlic, specifically, its sulfur compounds, which include allicin, can increase tissue blood flow and lower blood pressure by relaxing your blood vessels. In fact, diets high in garlic are associated with better flow-mediated vasodilation (FMD), an indicator of blood flow efficiency.
Fatty fish like salmon and mackerel are excellent sources of omega-3 fatty acids, which are especially beneficial for circulation because they promote the release of nitric oxide, which dilates your blood vessels and increases blood flow.
Omega-3 fats also help inhibit the clumping of platelets in your blood, a process that can lead to blood clot formation
Beets are high in nitrates, which your body converts into nitric oxide. Nitric oxide relaxes blood vessels and increases blood flow to muscle tissue.
Ayurvedic and traditional Chinese medicine have utilised turmeric since ancient times to open blood vessels and improve blood circulation. Research suggests that a compound found in turmeric called curcumin helps increase nitric oxide production, reduce oxidative stress and decrease inflammation.
Leafy greens like spinach and collard greens are high in nitrates, which your body converts into nitric oxide, a potent vasodilator. Eating nitrate-rich foods may help improve circulation by dilating blood vessels, allowing your blood to flow more easily.
Citrus fruits like oranges, lemons and grapefruit are packed with antioxidants, including flavonoids. Consuming flavonoid-rich citrus fruits may decrease inflammation in your body, which can reduce blood pressure and stiffness in your arteries while improving blood flow and nitric oxide production
Some other lifestyle modifications that can optimise blood flow:
- Quit smoking: Smoking is a risk factor for many chronic diseases and can negatively impact circulation
- Increase physical activity: Exercise stimulates blood flow and helps improve vasodilation
- Lose weight: Being overweight or obese negatively impacts blood flow and can lead to dangerous complications
- Stay hydrated: Proper hydration is critical to all aspects of health, including circulation. Dehydration can damage endothelial cells and promote inflammation in your body, restricting blood flow Reduce stress: Research proves that stress levels can significantly impact blood pressure. Manage your stress
Bacteria plays a big part in health
Microbiota is harboured in the intestine (gut biome), skin, scalp, hair (dermal biome) and the lungs.
Gut microbiota (formerly called gut flora)
Gut microbiota is the microbe population living in your intestines. Gut microbiota contains tens of trillions of microorganisms, including at least 1000 different species of known bacteria with more than 3 million genes (150 times more than human genes). Microbiota can, in total, weigh up to 2 kg.
One third of gut microbiota is common to most people, while two thirds are specific to each person. In other words, the microbiota in your intestine is like an individual identity card, and the species composition highly personalised – largely determined by environment and diet.
While each person has a unique microbiota, it always fulfills the same physiological functions, with direct impact on health.
Some of the functions are:
- It helps the body to digest certain foods that the stomach and small intestine have not been able to digest.
- It helps with the production of some vitamins (B and K).
- It helps us combat aggressions from other microorganisms, maintaining the wholeness of the intestinal mucosa.
- It plays an important role in the immune system, performing a barrier effect.
- A healthy and balanced gut microbiota is key to ensuring proper digestive functioning.
Taking into account the major role gut microbiota plays in the normal functioning of the body and the different functions it accomplishes, experts nowadays consider it as an organ with its intestine colonisation starting right after birth, evolving as you grow, influenced by different environmental aspects, dietary components, different enzymes, and later on, age.
Too much bad bacteria can mean your body finds it hard to absorb the nutrients and minerals from the food. Instead of breaking down the food so that the nutrients can be easily absorbed into your blood, the bad bacteria actually feed on the food itself and release toxic wastes.
The result is that although you may eat a relatively healthy diet, you may be undernourished resulting in various deficiencies.
Although it can adapt to change, a loss of balance in gut microbiota may arise in some specific situations – called dysbiosis. Dysbiosis may be linked to health problems such as functional bowel disorders, inflammatory bowel disease, allergies, obesity and diabetes.
Beneficial effects of prebiotics, probiotics and postbiotics
Many studies already demonstrated the beneficial effects of prebiotics and probiotics on your microbiota.
Prebiotics: serve as food for beneficial (good) bacteria, help to improve the functioning of microbiota while allowing the growth and activity of good bacteria. They are great for recalibrating the microbiome and fortifying the skin’s beneficial microflora, promoting healthier skin, scalp and hair. Popular prebiotics come from chicory, beet and yacon.
Probiotics: help gut microbiota keep its balance, integrity and diversity. Usually seen in yoghurt and fermented food, lactobacillus is the most common probiotic. It is also one of the healthiest. It strengthens the skin microbiome and provides relief for various sensitive skin conditions.
Postbiotics: The waste products of probiotics that help regulate the composition of your skin’s natural bacterial ecosystem.
The Dermal Biome
A natural ecosystem made up of skin, follicles, hair, sebaceous glands, arrector pili muscles (goosebump muscles), proteins, peptides, lipids and microbes.
Skin, hair and their related structures are your first interface with the world. As such, biomes are like a sentry – and when they thrive, they prevent moisture loss, regulate body temperature, protect against infection, create a healthy habitat for microbiome, and support the renewal of skin.
The dermal biome plays a big part in health and wellness. When your biome is healthy you can see it – skin and scalp are clear and itch-free, and hair feels strong, clean, shiny and vibrant.
And when it’s compromised, dryness, irritation and infection can occur and skin conditions can worsen. Follicles can become impaired and hair can become fragile, dull, and damaged far more easily.
How does it work?
Biomes create a water barrier on skin and hair, which means they prevent water from escaping and depleting bodies, and also keep environmental moisture from permeating and upsetting balance.
Cells in the outermost layer of the skin are made of keratin – a waterproofing protein to maintain a moisture balance. The sebaceous glands produce sebum, a natural oil, which fills the gaps between the skin cells, and provide extra water repellent to skin and hair, keeping them supple.
Without this protective barrier, skin and hair cells can either dehydrate and crack, or absorb excessive moisture – leading to cell disintegration and bacteria growth. Proper moisture balance is essential for cell renewal, defense and repair.
A healthy biome is your first line of defense against harmful bacteria
Germs constantly challenge skin and hair. A healthy biome continually resists this attack: skin produces antimicrobial peptides that form a shield on skin and hair, directly hostile to invading bad bacteria. At the same time, these peptides create a healthy habitat for the friendly bacteria
Biomes supports healthy skin renewal – shedding and regrowing skin cells about every 27 days, keeping bad bacteria, pollen and toxins at bay, and allowing pores and follicles to breathe and keep pores and follicles from getting clogged, preventing both minor skin irritations and more serious skin conditions.
While biomes are amazing, many conventional products can throw biomes off balance. By choosing the right products biomes can reset to their healthy best.
Everything benefits when the biome is healthy…
Just as the gut, the scalp’s microbiome contains both good and bad types of bacteria. And just like your gut, when the scalps bad bacteria outnumbers the good bacteria, this imbalance can silently wreak havoc on your hair and scalp causing dandruff, oily hair and even hair loss.
The key to healthy beauty is to care for the biome that supports it.
It keeps the moisture balanced perfectly. It protects from infection, irritation or worse. It prevents symptoms like frizzy hair, flaky scalp, split ends, itchiness, dry hair, irritation or other unattractive or uncomfortable situations.
Unfortunately most haircare products strip dirt and oils off the hair with detergents, then replace the oils with silicones and other conditioning agents. In the process, they destroy the natural strength and beauty of the skin and hair itself.
This causes an array of symptoms, from the simple (like damage, frizziness and dryness) to the more serious (inflammation, infection and disease).
Try to avoid:
Sulfates – aggressive detergents made of sulfur-containing mineral salts. The most common are Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) and Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES). These nasty ingredients commonly cause skin irritations, scalp sensitivity, weaken the hair’s follicles leading to hair loss and also strips your hair of its natural oils.
Silicones – Standard conditioners contain silicones derived from plastics such as Dimethicone and Dimethiconol which create a synthetic shine to cover the damage left by the sulfates. They create an added layer/barrier to your hair strands weighing the hair down, making it limp, lifeless and dull. This barrier also prevents nutrients and moisture from penetrating the hair shaft, which over time can cause the hair to weaken and break.
Synthetic Fragrance – compounds made up of thousands of petroleum based chemicals also known as Phthalates. These compounds are commonly found in skincare and haircare products, even the ones you love will eventually upset the balance on your scalp. They have been linked to conditions such as scalp sensitivities, irritations, allergic reactions and even hair loss.
Best Supplements For Healthy Hair
If you fail to get enough nutrients necessary for healthy hair growth and maintenance in your diet, supplements may be helpful.