Chef Aine McAteer reveals what foods you should eat to help with hair health and shares her simple, homemade recipes for hair products you can make right in your kitchen.
Since diet plays such a vital role in the health and beauty of the hair, here is a list of food and nutrients that are particularly nourishing.
Seaweed: My friend once told me that he was starting to go gray, but after a few months of having a daily dose of seaweed, he had completely regained his haircolor. Seaweed contains a wealth of nutrients vital to overall health and healthy hair, including iodine, iron, calcium, magnesium, niacin, zinc, sodium, potassium and a range of vitamins. Seaweed also has the ability to bind with toxins and expel them from the body, keeping your body cleansed from the inside out. As an alternative, you could take a kelp supplement so you still get the benefits of the seaweed.
Leafy greens: Leafy greens contain large amounts of vitamins A and C, which the body uses to make sebum, which is secreted by the hair follicles and keeps the hair glossy and in good condition. Greens are also rich in minerals, including iron vital to hair health.
Pumpkin seeds, Brazil nuts: As well as being good sources of Omega-3 and Omega-6 oils, pumpkin seeds and Brazil nuts are good sources of zinc and selenium, which are vital nutrients for hair health.
Brown rice: I mentioned earlier the importance of good-quality protein for hair health, and I recommend leaning toward vegetable protein in the form of grains and beans for optimum nutrition. Brown rice is also a good source of the stress-relieving B vitamins.
Beans: Beans are an excellent vegetarian source of protein, essential to hair health. They’re also a good source of iron, folic acid and B vitamins, nutrients necessary for healthy, shiny hair. Combine with whole grains such as brown rice or quinoa to make a complete protein.
Essential fatty acids (EFAs): As the name implies, these are essential for the structure of every cell membrane as well as healthy joints, circulation, heart function, glowing skin and shiny hair. The body cannot make its own supply, so it’s essential to get them from foods. EFAs fall into two groups: omega-3, found in oily fish such as salmon, mackerel, sardines and tuna, as well as flaxseeds and walnuts; and omega-6, found in seeds such as chia seeds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds and nuts. Good-quality supplements of evening primrose oil and borage oil also provide omega-6 in a specially converted form known as gamma linoleic acid (GLA). Hemp seeds are another wonderful source of GLA and omega-3.
Silica: A trace mineral is a vital nutrient for healthy hair and also for strong teeth and bones. Silica helps the body utilize other minerals such as boron, copper, magnesium, zinc and phosphorus. There are several food sources of silica, including seaweed, oats, millet, barley and whole wheat. You could take a silica supplement if your hair needs a boost.