13 Foods for Stronger Nails and Thicker Hair
The secret to think, strong, shiny strands isn't an expensive shampoo or fancy salon treatment—it's all about your diet. Eating a variety of healthy foods will give you the mane you've always dreamed of. Fill up on these nutrients to begin growing your healthiest hair ever. Better-looking hair and nails can start at your next meal.
“Your hair grows about 1/4 to 1/2 inch every month, and the foundation of all of our new hair, skin and nail growth is the nutrients we eat,” says dietitian Dawn Jackson Blatner. "If you eat a healthy diet, you will grow stronger and healthier cells throughout your entire body -- inside and out."
Read on for the 10 top foods that should be the foundation of your healthy hair and nails diet.
A juicy steak is loaded with protein, and it also has another nutrient that's important for hair and nail health: iron. That doesn't mean you should eat red meat every day of the week. Red meat is high in saturated fat, and eating a lot of it has been associated with an increased risk of several health problems. But you can safely indulge in a lean cut of beef once a week. If you think you may be deficient in iron, talk to your doctor about starting a supplement.
Antioxidants help protect your body's cells against free radical damage. This damage increases stress hormones and inflammation, which impacts all cells in the body, including those in the hair and nails.
Exotic super fruits may come and go but when it comes to vitamin C, It's hard to top this nutrient superhero. C is critical for circulation to the scalp and supports the tiny blood vessels that feed the follicles. Too little C in your diet can lead to hair breakage.
Not only are almonds a good source of protein, they're loaded with magnesium, which helps maintain healthy hair and nails. "Magnesium is Mother Nature's anti-stress mineral, and stress is a major factor in hair loss," explains Ashley Koff DR "Vertical ridges in your nails may be a sign of inadequate magnesium," adds Palinski. You can also get more magnesium through leafy greens, cacao nibs, and soybeans.
Beer is one of the richest sources of silicon in the average diet, says research from the Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture. "Silicon is a trace mineral thought to increase circulation to the scalp, which is good news for hair growth," says Rebecca Kazin, MD, dermatologist. Experts recommend that having no more than one drink a day if you're a woman, and two if you're a man.
Oysters may be better known for their reputation as an aphrodisiac, but they can also lead to healthy hair - and who doesn't love that?
The key to their love- and hair-boosting abilities is zinc - a powerful antioxidant.
If oysters don't make a regular appearance on your dinner plate, don't despair. In addition to getting it from whole grains and nuts, you can also get zinc from beef and lamb, or if you’re a vegetarian from pumpkin seeds and chickpeas.
Carrots are an excellent source of vitamin A, which promotes a healthy scalp along with good vision.
Since a healthy scalp is essential for a shiny, well-conditioned head of hair, you’d be wise to include carrots in your diet as snacks or toppings on your salad.
Some studies suggest a link between vitamin D and hair loss. Example: Women with hair shedding had lower vitamin D levels than women with healthy hair, according to a Skin Pharmacology Physiology study. Plus, calcium is a key mineral in building healthy hair and nails (note: you need vitamin D to absorb calcium). Of course, vitamin-D fortified milk offers both, but speak to your doctor about a vitamin D supplement if you think you might be deficient.
When it comes to healthy hair, it doesn't matter whether you like your eggs scrambled, fried or poached. However they're served, eggs are one of the best protein sources you can find.
They also contain biotin and vitamin B-12. Eggs are loaded with four key minerals: zinc, selenium, sulfur, and iron.
Besides being rich in protein and vitamin D (both are key to strong hair) the omega-3 fatty acids found in this tasty cold-water fish are the true superstar. Your body can't make those fatty acids, which your body needs to grow hair. About 3% of the hair shaft is make up of these fatty acids. Omega-3s are also found in cell membranes in the skin of your scalp, and in the natural oils that keep your scalp and hair hydrated.
These are the only type of nut that have a significant amount of omega-3 fatty acids. They're also rich in biotin and vitamin E, which helps protect your cells from DNA damage. Since your hair rarely gets much shielding from the sun, this is especially great. Too little biotin can lead to hair loss. Walnuts also have copper, a mineral that helps keep your natural hair color rich and lustrous.
Sweet potatoes are a great source of the antioxidant beta carotene, which your body turns into vitamin A. It also helps protect and produce the oils that sustain your scalp, and being low on vitamin A can even leave you with itchy, irksome dandruff.
Beans, beans, they're good for your ...hair?
Yes, it’s true. Legumes like kidney beans and lentils should be an important part of your hair-care diet. Not only do they provide plentiful protein to promote hair growth, but also ample iron, zinc and biotin. While rare, some small studies show biotin deficiencies can result in brittle hair.
Chickens and turkeys may have feathers, but the high-quality protein they provide will help give you the healthy hair you crave. Poultry also provides iron with a high degree of bioavailability, meaning your body can easily reap its benefits.
The big picture: A balanced diet for healthy hair
When it comes to foods for healthy hair and beautiful nails, variety is the best way to go.
An overall balanced diet of lean proteins, fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes, fatty fish like salmon and low-fat dairy will help keep hair healthy.
If you're tempted to drop pounds fast with the latest fad diet, it could leave you with less-than-healthy hair - along with a growling stomach. Low-calorie diets are often low in some of the most important nutrients for healthy hair, including omega-3 fatty acids, zinc and vitamin A. In addition to stunting hair growth and leading to hair dullness, super-low calorie plans may even cause hair loss.
“Crash diets can affect the hair cycle,” Paradi Mirmirani tells us. “Losing a significant amount of weight in a short amount of time can affect that normal hair rhythm. Two to three months later, you might notice a significant increase in shedding. This is a temporary problem that you recover from with a well-rounded diet.”