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Hair | The 13 Best Foods for Hair Growth

The 13 Best Foods for Hair Growth

Hair

Some of the best foods for hair growth are foods with high nutritional value like eggs, leafy greens, and fatty fish. Deficiencies in nutrients can affect hair health.

What is the effect of nutritional deficiency on hair?

Many people want strong and healthy hair, especially as they grow older.

However, how fast it grows and how healthy it is depends on many factors including age, overall health, genetics, environmental exposure, medications, and diet.

Although you can’t change some factors like age and genetics, one factor you likely have more control over is your diet.

Vitamins and minerals from food play an important role in the hair follicle growth cycle and in cellular turnover (1Trusted Source).

Consuming a diet lacking the right nutrients can lead to hair loss.

Studies suggest deficiencies in vitamins B12 and D, biotin, riboflavin, iron, and other nutrients are associated with hair loss (1Trusted Source).

Eating a balanced diet that is rich in these vitamins and minerals may help promote hair growth, especially if you’re experiencing hair loss due to poor nutrition.

While more research is needed to understand the connection between micronutrients and hair loss, it’s a good idea to ensure you’re getting enough of these 13 foods rich in nutrients that support hair growth.

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1. Eggs

Eggs are a great source of protein and biotin, two nutrients that are essential for hair growth.

Eating adequate protein is important for hair growth because hair follicles are mostly made of protein. A lack of protein in the diet has been shown to promote hair loss (2Trusted Source).

Biotin is essential for the production of a hair protein called keratin, which is why biotin supplements are often marketed for hair growth. Research has also shown that consuming more biotin can help improve hair growth in people with a biotin deficiency (3).

However, biotin deficiencies are uncommon if you consume a balanced diet. There is little evidence to show people who have limited or no health issues benefit from consuming more biotin (1Trusted Source).

Furthermore, consuming high amounts of biotin can interfere with laboratory results used to diagnose and manage a wide range of conditions (4Trusted Source).

While you are unlikely to consume excess biotin through food, many supplements for hair, skin and nail growth contain biotin in excess of the recommended daily intake (1Trusted Source).

Eggs are also a great source of zinc, selenium, and other hair-healthy nutrients. This makes them one of the best foods to consume for optimal hair health (5Trusted Source).
SUMMARY
Eggs are a great source of protein and biotin, which are important for hair health and growth. A deficiency in either of these nutrients has been linked to hair loss.

2. Berries

Berries are loaded with beneficial compounds and vitamins that may support hair growth.

This includes vitamin C, which has strong antioxidant properties.

Antioxidants can help protect hair follicles against damage from harmful molecules called free radicals. These molecules exist naturally in the body and the environment (6Trusted Source, 7Trusted Source, 8Trusted Source).

For example, 1 cup (144 grams) of strawberries provides an impressive 85 milligrams or up to 113% of your daily vitamin C needs (9Trusted Source).

Also, the body uses vitamin C to produce collagen, a protein that helps strengthen hair to prevent it from becoming brittle and breaking (10Trusted Source, 11Trusted Source).

What’s more, vitamin C helps the body absorb iron from the diet. Low iron levels may cause anemia, which has been linked to hair loss (1Trusted Source, 12Trusted Source).

SUMMARY

Berries are loaded with compounds like antioxidants and vitamins that may support hair growth. 
For example, strawberries are rich in vitamin C, which aids collagen production and iron absorption, two factors that may promote hair growth.

3. Spinach

Spinach is a healthy green vegetable that’s loaded with beneficial nutrients like folate, iron, and vitamins A and C, all of which are important for hair growth (13Trusted Source).

Studies suggest vitamin A is important for hair growth. But supplementing with too much vitamin A can actually lead to hair loss. (1Trusted Source, 14Trusted Source, 15Trusted Source).

You should be able to get all the vitamin A you need by eating foods rich in this important nutrient.

A cup (30 grams) of spinach provides up to 20% of your daily vitamin A needs (13Trusted Source).

Spinach is also a great plant-based source of iron, which is essential for hair growth. Iron helps red blood cells carry oxygen throughout the body to fuel your metabolism and aid growth and repair (16Trusted Source, 17Trusted Source).

What’s more, iron deficiencies have been linked to hair loss (18Trusted Source, 19Trusted Source).

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SUMMARY

Spinach is loaded with folate, iron, and vitamins A and C, which are important for hair growth. A deficiency
in these nutrients may result in hair loss.

4. Fatty fish

Fatty fish like salmon, herring, and mackerel have nutrients that may promote hair growth.

They are excellent sources of omega-3 fatty acids, which have been linked to hair growth in several studies.

An older study in 120 women found that taking a supplement containing omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids as well as antioxidants reduced hair loss and increased hair density (20Trusted Source).

However, there are only a handful of studies on omega-3 fatty acids and hair growth. More studies are needed before health experts can make any recommendations.

Fatty fish is also a great source of protein, selenium, vitamin D3, and B vitamins, nutrients that may help promote strong and healthy hair (21Trusted Source).

Interestingly, studies have linked vitamin D3 deficiency to hair loss (1Trusted Source, 22Trusted Source, 23Trusted Source, 24Trusted Source).

While it is still unclear if low vitamin D leads to hair loss, it’s a good idea to include fatty fish and other sources of vitamin D regularly in your diet.

SUMMARY

Fatty fish like salmon, herring, and mackerel are great sources of omega-3 fatty acids, which may support improved hair growth and density. However, there are only a few studies in this area, so more are needed. Fatty fish is also one of the few food sources of vitamin D, which may be important for hair growth.

5. Sweet potatoes

Sweet potatoes are a great source of beta-carotene. The body converts this compound into vitamin A, which is linked to hair health.

A medium sweet potato (about 114 grams) contains enough beta carotene to provide up to 160% of your daily vitamin A needs (25Trusted Source).

Research has shown that vitamin A can affect the production of sebum, which helps keep hair healthy (26Trusted Source).

Vitamin A deficiency can lead to hair loss (27Trusted Source).

However, too much vitamin A can cause hair loss as well (1Trusted Source, 27Trusted Source).

Aim to meet your needs by eating vitamin-A–rich foods like sweet potatoes and avoiding too much supplementation.

SUMMARY

Sweet potatoes are loaded with vitamin A, which is important for hair growth and affects sebum production.

6. Avocados

Avocados are delicious, nutritious, and a great source of healthy fats.

They are also an excellent source of vitamin E, which may support hair growth. One medium avocado (about 200 grams) provides 28% of your daily vitamin E needs (28Trusted Source).

Like vitamin C, vitamin E is an antioxidant that helps prevent oxidative stress by neutralizing free radicals.

Some studies have found lower levels of vitamin E in people with hair loss, but the evidence is conflicting (14Trusted Source).

In one older study, people with hair loss experienced 34.5% more hair growth after taking a vitamin E supplement for 8 months (29Trusted Source).

Vitamin E also protects areas of the skin, like the scalp, from oxidative stress and damage. Damaged skin on the scalp can result in poor hair quality and fewer hair follicles (30Trusted Source, 31Trusted Source).

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SUMMARY

Avocados are rich in vitamin E. This antioxidant helps prevent oxidative stress that may lead to hair loss.

7. Nuts

Nuts are tasty, convenient, and contain a variety of nutrients that are important for hair growth.

For example, an ounce (28 grams) of almonds provides an impressive 48% of your daily vitamin E needs (32Trusted Source).

What’s more, they also provide a wide variety of B vitamins, zinc, and essential fatty acids. A deficiency in any of these nutrients has been linked to hair loss (1Trusted Source, 20Trusted Source).

Nuts have also been linked to a wide variety of other health benefits besides hair growth, including reduced inflammation and a lower risk of heart disease (33Trusted Source).

This makes nuts an excellent and easy addition to your diet.

SUMMARY

Nuts are packed with nutrients like vitamin E, B vitamins, zinc, and essential fatty acids, all of
which are important for hair growth and are linked to many other health benefits.

8. Seeds

Seeds are rich in nutrients with relatively few calories. Many of these nutrients are also important for hair growth. These include vitamin E, zinc, and selenium.

An ounce (28 grams) of sunflower seeds provides nearly 50% of your daily vitamin E needs, with a wide variety of hair-healthy B vitamins (34Trusted Source).

What’s more, certain seeds like flaxseeds and chia seeds also provide omega-3 fatty acids.

Two tablespoons of ground flaxseed provide 4.7 grams of omega-3 fatty acids. That’s more omega-3 fatty acids than half a fillet (178 grams) of salmon (21Trusted Source, 35Trusted Source).

However, flaxseeds provide a type of omega-3 fatty acid that is not used by the body as efficiently as the omega-3s found in fatty fish. Nonetheless, they are a great addition to the diet.

To get the widest variety of nutrients, it’s best to consume a mixture of seeds.

SUMMARY

Like nuts, seeds are rich in vitamin E and other nutrients that may promote hair growth. Some seeds
also contain omega-3s, which have been linked to hair growth.

9. Sweet peppers

Sweet peppers are an excellent source of antioxidant-rich vitamin C, which may support hair growth.

In fact, one yellow pepper provides up to 456% of the daily vitamin C needs of women and 380% for men (36Trusted Source, 37Trusted Source).

Vitamin C helps promote collagen production, which can help strengthen your hair strands. It’s also a powerful antioxidant, which may protect hair strands against oxidative stress.

Oxidative stress occurs when free radicals overwhelm the body’s antioxidant defense system. It has been linked to hair loss and the graying of hair (31Trusted Source).

What’s more, sweet peppers are also an excellent source of vitamin A (36Trusted Source).

This vitamin is essential for hair growth and affects the production of sebum, which helps keep hair healthy.

SUMMARY

Sweet peppers are a rich source of vitamins A and C, two nutrients that help ensure hair stays healthy and that may aid hair growth.

10. Oysters

Oysters are one of the best food sources of zinc. One medium oyster provides up to 96% of daily zinc needs for women and 75% of daily zinc needs for men (38Trusted Source).

Zinc is a mineral that helps support the hair growth and repair cycle (39Trusted Source, 40Trusted Source).

A lack of zinc in the diet may promote telogen effluvium, a common but reversible form of hair loss caused by a lack of nutrients in the diet (41Trusted Source).

Studies have shown that taking a zinc supplement may reverse the effects of hair loss caused by a zinc deficiency (2Trusted Source, 14Trusted Source,).

However, taking too much zinc can cause toxicity. That’s why getting zinc from foods like oysters may be better than supplements since foods provide zinc in small but healthy doses (2Trusted Source).

SUMMARY

Oysters are one of the best sources of zinc in the diet. This mineral helps support the hair growth and repair cycle.

11. Beans

Beans are a great plant-based source of protein, which is essential to hair growth.

Like oysters, beans are a good source of zinc, which aids hair growth and the repair cycle. A 3.5-ounce (100-gram) serving of black beans provides up to 14% of a woman’s daily zinc needs and 10% for men (42Trusted Source).

They also provide many other hair-healthy nutrients, including iron, biotin, and folate (43Trusted Source).

On top of all these benefits, beans are highly versatile and inexpensive, which makes them an easy addition to the diet.

SUMMARY

Beans are a great source of protein, iron, zinc, and biotin, which are all essential for optimal hair health. Together, they may support hair growth.

12. Soybeans

Studies have shown that compounds in soybeans may promote hair growth. One of these compounds is spermidine, which is abundant in soybeans (44, 45Trusted Source).

For example, a study of 100 people found that a spermidine-based nutritional supplement prolonged a phase of active hair growth called the anagen phase. The longer a hair follicle stays in the anagen phase, the longer it will grow (46Trusted Source).

Other studies suggest spermidine may promote human hair growth (47).

However, the research on spermidine and hair growth is fairly new, so more studies are needed before health experts can make recommendations on spermidine intake.

SUMMARY

Soybeans are one of the best sources of spermidine, a compound that may prolong the active phase of
hair growth.

13. Meat

Meat is a staple in many people’s diets and is rich in nutrients that may aid hair growth.

The protein in meat aids growth and helps repair and strengthen hair follicles. A 3.5-ounce (100-gram) serving of cooked sirloin steak provides as much as 29 grams of protein (48Trusted Source).

Red meat, in particular, is rich in a type of iron that’s easy to absorb. This mineral helps the red blood cells deliver oxygen to all cells in the body, including hair follicles (16Trusted Source, 17Trusted Source).

However, it’s important to note that the overconsumption of red meat, especially processed red meat, has been linked with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, colorectal cancer, and type 2 diabetes in men and women. (49Trusted Source)

Deficiencies in protein and iron have been linked to hair loss (2Trusted Source, 18Trusted Source, 19Trusted Source).

SUMMARY

Meat is a great source of protein, which is essential for healthy, strong hair. Red meat, in particular, is rich in easy-to-absorb iron, which may aid hair growth.

The bottom line

What you eat can affect the health of your hair.

A lack of the right nutrients, including vitamins A, C, D, and E, zinc, B vitamins, iron, biotin, protein, and essential fatty acids, may slow down hair growth or even cause hair loss.

Fortunately, correcting a deficiency in any of these nutrients may help treat hair loss and promote the rate of hair growth.

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