The Best Foods for Hair Growth (According to the Science)
Bread crusts give you curls and biotin is a superstar for hair growth. At least, those are just some of the hair growth myths we’re told.
There are a lot of misconceptions out there when it comes to food for hair growth.
But the science shows that your diet can impact the health of your hair.
The role of diet in hair growth isn’t straightforward or clear cut. And the research on it is far from conclusive.
But studies show that certain nutritional deficiencies can lead to thinning or brittle hair — and addressing these deficiencies through diet and supplements can reverse signs of weaker hair.
So let’s take a look at the various vitamins and minerals that may cause hair loss and, more importantly, foods for healthy hair that may actually work.
Improving your diet by eating foods that are good for the hair is a great place to start your hair growth journey, especially if it complements a hair loss treatment that addresses any other underlying causes (such as genetics).
This hair growth strategy won’t deliver an overnight transformation. But it may just contribute to healthier, stronger, and thicker hair for the long term.
Do nutritional deficiencies lead to hair loss?
The research on diet and hair loss paints a confusing picture, with many inconclusive and contradictory findings. What we do know is that vitamins and minerals have an important role in the hair growth cycle.
Here’s how it works.
Your scalp is covered in hair follicles. These miniscule pockets in the epidermis (the outer layer of your skin) contain hair bulbs, which are the base of each hair strand.
Bulbs are made up of protein cells that are fed a steady diet of essential nutrients and hormones via the blood vessels.
Without proteins, fats, vitamins, and minerals, the protein cells cannot thrive, which may lead to weak, brittle, or thinning hair.
But does that mean that nutritional deficiencies cause hair loss?
Researchers have linked hair loss to vitamin D, biotin, zinc, and iron deficiencies. With all other deficiencies, the evidence just isn’t there yet.
In any case, eating a balanced diet will help ensure your hair follicles get the nutrients they need to produce hair.
However, it’s important to remember that nutrition is just one element in growing healthy hair. Other factors, such as age, genetics, medications, and environmental exposures can also affect the state of your hair.
The best food for hair growth and healthy hair — according to the vitamin and minerals you need
Vitamin D supplements may be recommended for those with a deficiency who are experiencing hair loss but most people get their recommended daily intake (RDI) through sun exposure and a few foods rich in the vitamin.
Foods that are rich in vitamin D:
- Fatty fish
- Animal fats
- Cereals fortified with vitamin D
- Milks fortified with vitamin D
- Orange juice fortified with vitamin D
Vitamin A is important for hair growth as it can affect the production of sebum, the oil that protects your hair.
However it’s best to get this vitamin through a natural diet rather than supplements. Case studies suggest too much vitamin A can cause hair loss.
Sweet potatoes are a particularly good source of vitamin A — or more precisely, they contain high amounts of beta-carotene, a compound that the body converts into vitamin A.
Foods rich in vitamin A:
- Sweet potato
Vitamin E is an antioxidant that can protect the scalp and hair follicles from oxidative stress, which in turn prevents brittle hair.
One study found that the antioxidant properties of vitamin E might help counter the effects of alopecia and increase hair growth. However, the general data remains inconclusive about the role of vitamin E in hair growth.
Vitamin E deficiencies are rare and most people can get their RDI through diet. Just a handful (about 28 grams) of almonds or sunflower seeds provides almost 50% of your daily dose of vitamin E!
Foods rich in vitamin E:
- Sunflower seeds
This is one of the rare occasions in science where the case is clear: Zinc deficiencies contribute to all types of hair loss. Zinc helps produce DNA and RNA — essential for processes where cells divide, like hair growth.
We humans can only get zinc through our diet, with fish and meat as the main sources. In fact, oysters have the highest level of zinc you’ll find in any food.
Naturally, this means vegetarians and vegans may be at risk of developing a zinc deficiency. Fortunately, a 100g serving of black beans can provide up to 14% of the daily recommended intake for women and 10% for men.
Foods rich in zinc:
- Black beans
- Brazil nuts
Biotin, also called vitamin B7, is responsible for producing keratin, the protein your hair is made up of. Despite this, there’s little evidence to suggest that biotin supplements help hair grow.
That’s because biotin deficiencies are extremely rare — you can get all the biotin you need from a balanced diet.
Foods rich in biotin:
- Egg yolks
- Sweet potato
Omega-3 fatty acids
Omega-3 fatty acids are anti-inflammatory, which means they can protect your cells — including those in your hair follicles — from damage. They’re believed to be good for the hair, skin, eyes, and heart.
Fatty fish are one of the best sources of omega-3 fatty acids. Nuts and seeds are also high in these healthy fats, although they contain a type of omega-3 that the body can’t use as easily as the fatty acids found in fish. Nevertheless, they’re a good alternative for those who don’t eat seafood.
Foods that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids:
- Flaxseeds and chia seeds
- Soybean and canola oil
Every strand of hair is made up of protein so it’s safe to say protein is essential for healthy hair growth.
One of the best foods for protein is the humble egg. Two 60 gram eggs contain almost 13 grams of protein. That’s 20% of the recommended daily intake for men, 27% for women, and about 33% for children.
Foods that are rich in protein:
The link between iron and hair health is one of the strongest researchers have found. We all need iron to help our red blood cells deliver oxygen to the hair follicles.
There have been many studies, not to mention plenty of anecdotal evidence, that suggest that an iron deficiency may lead to hair loss.
Red meat is one of the highest sources of iron — not to mention, it contains a type of iron that is easy for the body to absorb.
Foods that are rich in iron:
- Red meat (like beef and lamb)
Vitamin C has an indirect role in your hair growth: It helps your body absorb iron, which is essential for healthy hair.
Vitamin C is also a great antioxidant, helping protect hair follicles from damage caused by free radicals. Plus it helps boost production of a protein called collagen, which helps strengthen hair.
Strawberries are a great source of vitamin C, with one cup containing up to 113% of your recommended daily intake.
Leafy green vegetables like spinach contain iron and vitamin C together, making them a beneficial addition to your diet.
Foods that are rich in vitamin C
- Citrus fruits
- Berries (including strawberries)
- Cruciferous vegetables (such as broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower)
One of Our Favourite Hair Growth Strategies
Diet may help strengthen your hair. But unless you have one of the nutritional deficiencies we mentioned above, it’s unlikely that your diet alone is causing hair loss.
Your hair loss could very well be a result of genetics, medication, hormonal changes, stress, or a medical condition. And if that’s the case, you may need to do more than make some simple dietary changes.
A hair loss treatment like The Hairy Pill® can help address the underlying cause of hair loss to ensure long-lasting results.
Here’s how hair loss treatment works.
The Hairy Pill® is made specifically for you. It contains active ingredients that help stimulate your hair follicles, as well as a customised blend of vitamins and minerals to deliver all the support your hair needs.
The process is simple. Once you fill out a form, our partner doctors will recommend dosing based on their assessment of your needs. Our partner pharmacists make (or compound) the medicine for you. Then it gets delivered straight to your door.
Looking to Get Treatment for Your Hair Loss?
In most cases, you won’t find an overnight hair loss cure with a few simple dietary changes. But in some cases — especially if you have a specific nutritional deficiency — certain foods may help support your hair growth journey by strengthening your strands.
Even so, your hair may need an extra nudge with the help of active ingredients found in a prescription hair loss treatment. These ingredients are designed to stop hair loss and kickstart regrowth — even if your hair loss is hereditary or what you considered ‘a lost cause’.
Learn more about The Hairy Pill® hair loss treatment today.