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What Foods Make Your Hair Grow Faster?

April 18, 2014

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Hi, I’m Maria Marlowe, a Certified Health Coach and author of Detox without the Deprivation. This is my weekly “Ask Health Coach Maria” series, in which I answer frequently asked questions that relate to health and wellness. Have a question? Ask me here

Hi Maria,

I recently cut my hair short and hate it! Is there anything I can do to make it naturally grow faster? Do those hair and nail pills really work?

-Carla, Kentucky

Carla, we have all been there. A few too many snips of the scissor and it seems as if we’re left with a permanent bad hair day. The one consolation is the knowledge that it grows back.

Normal hair growth is about half an inch per month (give or take), or 6 inches a year. But since diet plays a role in hair growth, you can give this a little nudge by ensuring your hair is growing to it’s maximum potential.

There are a few specific nutrients that aid the body’s ability to construct a proper hair shaft and produce strong follicles and lustrous hair. B-vitamins are among these nutrients, which is where those pills you mention come into play. Most of them use biotin as the main ingredient, which is indeed a B-vitamin essential for hair growth and overall scalp health. However, since biotin is actually made in the intestines, and is plentiful in many foods, it’s unlikely for you to be deficient. My suggestion with regard to these pills is that you save your money and focus on an overall healthy diet instead.

Choosing foods that promote healthy hair is the best thing you can do to give hair growth a boost. Keep in mind though, you won’t wake up with Rapunzel-length hair overnight, as the hair growth process is unavoidably drawn-out. But, by incorporating these foods and nutrients into your diet, you’re setting the optimum foundation for long, strong, healthy hair growth.

Foods that Promote Hair Growth

Foods Rich in B Vitamins

Vitamin B might as well stand for Vitamin Beautiful, because that is how makes your hair, skin, and nails look. Folate, B6, B12, and biotin are involved in the creation of new red blood cells, which carry oxygen and nutrients to your cells, including those in your hair and scalp. Deficiency in any of these can lead to weak hair prone to breaking, shedding, and slower growth.

Foods Sources of Folate: Lentils, black-eyed peas, beans, dark leafy greens, broccoli, sunflower seeds, berries, artichokes

Foods Sources of B6: Chickpeas, wild salmon, oats, bananas, pistachios, lentils, tomatoes, brown or wild rice, broccoli, carrots, Brussels sprouts, avocados, eggs, dark leafy greens

Foods Sources of B12: Most animal-based foods contain B12. Some of the best picks include wild salmon or other wild fish and eggs. If you don’t eat meat, check out some of these vegan sources of B12.

Foods Sources of Biotin: Almonds, walnuts, dark leafy greens, wild salmon, cauliflower, avocadoes, raspberries

Foods Rich in Beta-Carotene

Beta-carotene is converted to Vitamin A in the body, which is needed for hair cell growth. If you’re lacking in Vitamin A, you may develop dry, brittle hair and a flaky scalp, which will most definitely slow down the growth of your luscious locks.

Food sources of beta-carotene: Any orange or red produce, like carrots, sweet potato, pumpkin, cantaloupe, tomatoes, and watermelon, as well as dark leafy greens

Foods Rich in Omega-3:

Omega 3 is an essential fatty acid that we must take in through our diet, as we can’t make it on our own. This healthy fat is highly anti-inflammatory, keeps our hair and skin supple, and, like other fats, helps our body absorb the fat-soluble nutrients, like Vitamin A, that it needs for healthy hair.

Food sources of Omega 3: hemp seeds, chia seeds, flax seeds, walnuts, wild salmon and other seafood

Foods Rich in Iron:

Iron helps the red blood cells carry oxygen, which is needed for proper hair growth and strong hair. Lack of iron can lead to slower growth and even hair loss. Note that iron is absorbed differently when it comes from an animal source than when it comes from a plant source. Plant-based sources of iron should be eaten with food that contains Vitamin C, for better absorption.

Foods sources of iron: eggs, meat, lentils, beans, black-eyed peas, tempeh, soy, dark leafy greens, seaweed

Foods Rich in Vitamin C:

Vitamin C is the building block for collagen, a structural protein that gives us strong hair and youthful skin. It also helps us use the iron found in plant foods. Lack of vitamin C can lead to dry, brittle hair that breaks easily.

Food sources of Vitamin C: Pineapple, oranges, tangerine, papaya, bell peppers, lemon, grapefruit, dark leafy greens,

Foods Rich in Zinc:

Zinc plays a role inkeeping your hair follicles functioning properly and your hair growing quickly. Low zinc can mean dandruff, slow growth, and even hair loss.

Food sources of zinc: sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, cashews, beans, lentils

Incorporating these vitamins into your diet through healthy, whole foods is an important step toward optimizing hair growth, as well as overall health. You’ll be feeling great and loving your locks again before you know it!