Just like the rest of your body, your hair needs plenty of nutrients to look its best. Protein makes up the bulk of your hair while iron helps it to grow. Vitamin A and omega-3 fatty acids help improve the health of your scalp and B vitamins keep your hair strong. It’s better to get your nutrients from food than from a supplement, according to dermatologist Paradi Mirmirani, M.D., on WebMD.
Leafy Green Vegetables
Add some fresh, raw spinach to your salad for a dose of Vitamin A, which helps your body produce sebum, the oil that keeps your hair soft and naturally conditioned, according to WebMD. Green vegetables such as kale, chard and spinach are also high in iron and calcium, which keep your hair strong.
Salmon and Other Fish
Salmon, tuna and trout are tasty sources of abundant protein, the building block of your hair. Salmon and tuna are also high in omega-3s, which keep your scalp healthy. When you don’t get enough omega-3s, your scalp becomes drier, which makes your hair look dull and lifeless. Fish is also a great source of vitamin B12, which helps red blood cells form, boosting the health of your scalp and hair.
A quarter cup of walnuts gives you 90 percent of your daily supply of omega-3s, according to Shara Aaron, M.S., R.D., at Kaboose. If you are a vegetarian, a daily handful of walnuts is a tasty way to get the omega-3s you need as well as some protein, B vitamins and minerals such as selenium and zinc. Alpha linolenic acid, the type of omega-3 that walnuts contain, prevents hair from drying out and becoming weak. Selenium boosts the health of your scalp while zinc can stop excess hair shedding.
A single large egg usually contains about 6 grams of protein, according to Kaboose. Eggs are also a rich source of biotin, a B vitamin you need for healthy hair follicles. You risk losing your hair if you get too little biotin. Eggs also contain B12 and in some cases omega-3s.
Dried beans, such as black beans, chickpeas and lentils, can give you the protein you need for healthy hair whether you eat meat or not. Beans also contain abundant B vitamins, such as folate and B6, that your hair needs for growth, as well as zinc and biotin.
If you don’t want to eat fish, add a few tablespoons of flax seed to your cereal each day for a boost of omega-3s. Eat a handful of pumpkin seeds each day for a dose of magnesium, a nutrient that helps prevent hair loss. Your body does not produce magnesium on its own, so you must get it from food, according to Aaron. Sunflower seeds are another food for healthy hair. The large amount of vitamin E in the seeds help hair grow by improving the flow of blood to your scalp.