Tuesday, November 23, 2010

What to Eat for the Healthiest Hair

Winter is just about upon us, so it'll be no time until we start seeing that dreaded winter hair loss and breakage. Yes, winter is harsh on our hair. Cold winter winds whipping, scarves and jackets tangling and indoor heating drying out our strands - how soon until those 'winter protection' commercials from brands like Pantene start airing? Don't worry though - while shampoo and conditioner will help, you can strengthen your hair from the inside out and actually enhance it's growth through a healthy diet.

Many people think that applying something on the surface of their hair (or skin) is going to solve their dryness problem, but the problem actually has more to do with nutritional deficiencies than the quality of your cream. Those external products can help protect and act as a defense mechanism, but they won't fix the initial problem. The real key is to make sure you're getting enough protein, vitamin E, omega-3 and 6 MUFAs and PUFAs along with vitamins B, C, E, A and K. You also need to be getting enough iron, magnesium, potassium, copper and zinc if you want healthy strong hair. Now, it should be noted that deficiencies in these nutrients can cause breakage and hair loss, but if you're already getting enough, there's no sense in going overboard - more is not better; 'enough' is what you need.

So what kinds of foods can help maintain healthy, strong strands? Foods like fish, meat, poultry, raw nuts, seeds, whole grains and green leafy vegetables pretty much run the gamut from Vitamin A to zinc in addition to providing you with lean protein, simple and complex carbohydrates and healthy fats. You can really do a lot with those ingredients! And sure, there are always supplements that can provide you with many of these nutrients, but if you're not getting enough fats in general (20-30% of your daily calories or 44-66g per day on a 2000 calorie diet), dryness will still be a factor. Plus, nutrients tend to be more biologically available and usable from whole foods anyways. As long as you're having complete, balanced meals (with items from 3 or more food groups at each meal) you should do very well. Here's to your healthy, strong hair!