We all want strong, shiny and healthy-looking hair, and the condition of the hair can also be a good indication of how healthy the body is from the inside. A key factor for healthy hair is good nutrition.
Hair is 97 % protein. The rest is made up of amino acids, minerals and trace elements.
The hair follicle is at the base of the hair where it meets the scalp, and is fed by a network of blood vessels.
Hair is thickest when you are in your early 20s; after this the number of hairs on the scalp declines as part of the natural aging process.
The average person loses between 100 and 125 hairs every day.
There is greater hair loss in spring and autumn as a natural response to seasonal changes and the amount of daylight. Research has found that people lose more hair in November than any other month.
Healthy hair needs:
- Essential fatty acids, especially omega-3 and oleic acid (or omega 9)
Hair loss can be caused by many reasons, including hereditary factors, general health and wellbeing, stress, taking certain drugs or medication. Nutrition can play a big role in the cause and treatment of hair loss.
Some conditions that may be the cause of hair loss are:
- Anaemia- try adding iron-rich foods to your diet, like dark, leafy green vegetables and eggs.
- Zinc deficiency- this is sometimes characterized by fine and brittle hair and improvements can take several months to become noticeable. Eat foods like seeds, nuts, oysters and fish.
- Stress- eat more vitamin-rich foods, concentrating on vitamin C and the B-vitamins to boost immunity. Vitamin B5, also known as pantothetic acid is particularly useful for cell growth and boosting hair condition, and Royal jelly or bee pollen is an excellent source.
- Hormones- changes in hormone levels, such as pregnancy and the menopause can temporarily affect hair growth.
How to Improve Hair Condition
Environmental factor factors like the weather, central heating and poor nutrition can all cause hair to look dull and lifeless. To improve the condition of your hair:
- Drink plenty of water. This will rehydrate your scalp and follicles and ensure the blood is circulating well to feed the hair with vital nutrients.
- Increase your intake of essential fatty acids, including nuts, seeds and good quality olive oil and nut oils for cooking and salads.
- Sulfur is an important mineral for glossy, smooth hair. It is found in vegetables like cabbage, broccoli and Brussels sprouts.
Dandruff is the when the natural process of skin shedding on the scalp builds up into larger, more noticeable flakes. Scientists largely agree that it is caused by a tiny yeast-type fungus called Pityrosporum-ovale which is naturally present on everyone's scalp. However, various factors can cause this fungus to multiply, leading to the inflammation and scaling associated with dandruff.
- As well as using specific products like coconut oil on the hair, tackling the problem from the inside by adjusting your diet can make a big difference to reducing dandruff.
- Increase you intake of the B-vitamins, by eating foods like wheatgerm, whole grains, cabbage, spinach, broccoli, eggs, lentils, beans and nuts.
- Cabbage, broccoli and eggs also include sulfur, which is an excellent mineral for improving hair health. Onions and horseradish are other good sources of this mineral.
- A deficiency of essential fatty acids has been linked to dandruff, so include plenty of omega-3 oils from seeds, nuts and fish.
- Garlic and the herb oregano have also been found to help control dandruff.
- Too much sugar, processed foods and stress can all deplete B vitamin levels.