Tag Archive for: Vitamin A

The Best Superfoods for Healthy Hair

Hair loss can often leave a person feeling helpless about their appearance. Fortunately, there are lifestyle changes a person can make to encourage healthy hair growth.  For example, replacing processed foods with nutrient-dense superfoods may help manage hair loss. 

Nutrients for Hair Growth

Like the rest of the body, the scalp depends on vitamins and minerals from the food you eat to grow healthy hair. Hair grows out through hair follicles, and these follicles need nutrients to work well. The following are a few of the most vital nutrients necessary for hair growth. 

Vitamin A

Healthy follicles are important for robust hair growth. Vitamin A ensures well-functioning follicles by promoting better blood circulation and mitigating follicle damage from free radicals. Additionally, vitamin A improves overall scalp condition, eliminating dry and scaly skin. 

B Vitamins

Deficiencies in B vitamins have been linked to hair loss. B vitamins support the growth of skin, hair, and nails in two ways: 

  • Enhancing the body’s ability to remove nutrients from foods. 
  • Boost red blood cell formation. 

A variety of nutrients fall under the umbrella of a B vitamin: (01)

  • B1 (also known as Thiamine)
  • B2 (also known as Riboflavin)
  • B3 (also known as Niacin)
  • B5 (also known as Pantothenic acid)
  • B6
  • B7 (also known as Biotin)
  • B9 (also known as Folate)
  • B12

Hair-friendly B vitamins help with red blood cell formation, which are vital for carrying oxygen and nutrients throughout the body— including the scalp. 

Vitamin C

A healthy head of hair is nearly impossible without Vitamin C. It’s a powerful antioxidant that impacts hair growth by: (02)

  • Playing a significant role in developing collagen, which is necessary for hair building and structure. 
  • Encouraging the absorption of iron, which prevents hair loss and oxidative stress. 

Like the rest of the body, the scalp and hair is susceptible to damage from free radicals. Vitamin C helps to reduce the injury from free radicals and maintains scalp health. Furthermore, collagen is a key compound that produces keratin, which gives skin and hair cells their structure. Vitamin C amps up collagen production and helps to strengthen and grow healthy hair. 

Vitamin D

Due to our modern lifestyle and diet, most people do not get enough vitamin D. Which is unfortunate, because vitamin D deficiency is linked to hair loss and slow hair growth. Participants in a study of women experiencing hair loss had lower levels of vitamin D. In another study of individuals with alopecia areata (an autoimmune condition that causes hair loss) found that vitamin D levels were also lower in individuals with the disease. (03, 04)

Iron

While many people don’t get enough vitamin D, the most common nutrient deficiency in the world is iron deficiency. Iron plays a significant role in a variety of body systems, but perhaps it’s most well-known for carrying oxygen throughout the body via red blood cells. Without iron, hair follicles can’t get the oxygen they need to grow hair. Therefore, iron deficiency results in anemia and hair loss. (02)

Zinc

Bones, muscles, the immune system, and even reproductive organs all require zinc to function appropriately. Zinc is also essential for healthy hair and skin. This mineral plays a significant role in manufacturing collagen, essential for growing hair. (02)

In addition, zinc affects the hormone dihydrotestosterone (DHT). DHT is responsible for the loss of hair in situations like male pattern.  Zinc regulates the activity of the enzyme that keeps DHT in check, 5-alpha reductase.

Seven Superfoods for Hair Loss

The good news is that you can easily obtain these vital hair nutrients by incorporating the following superfoods in your diet. You’ll find some predictable foods on this list, as well as some you may not have expected to be hair-growing superfoods! 

1 Nuts and Seeds

In general, nuts and seeds are high-protein and nutrient-dense superfoods. When it comes to hair, however, they’re chock full of the nutrients necessary for long, shiny hair. Nuts and seeds are high in B vitamins, iron, zinc, selenium, and omega-3 fatty acids. Just keep your intake to a handful a day, because nuts and seeds are also high in calories. 

2 Healthy Cuts of Meat

Meat gets a bad rap. Although it’s true that fatty or heavily processed meats adversely affect a person’s health, this is not the case for all types of meat. Moderate amounts of healthy cuts of meat are rich in nutrients and can help maintain a healthy head of hair. Red meat is full of an easily absorbable type of iron that works especially well in the blood’s oxygen delivery system, which helps bring oxygen to hair follicles. 

3 Oysters

Oysters are more than purported aphrodisiacs, they’re also great for growing hair. These delectable mollusks are low-calorie and high in nutrients, with the minerals it takes to make hair healthy. A 3.5-ounce of oysters provides the following percentage of a person’s daily required nutrients: (05)

  • Selenium: 56% 
  • Iron: 40% 
  • Vitamin B12: 538%
  • Zinc: 555%

These whopping percentages indicate how high oysters are in many of the nutrients needed to grow hair. 

4 Spinach 

In addition to muscles, perhaps spinach should have blessed Popeye with a full head of hair. Spinach is filled with nutrients that benefit both muscles and hair. Loaded with plant-based iron, vitamin C, and vitamin A, spinach can help keep hair follicles and strands healthy. 

5 Eggs 

One superfood that contains what you need for healthy hair are eggs. Hair is mostly protein (collagen and keratin) and eggs are a rich non-red meat source of protein. High in vitamin A, vitamin E, and B vitamins like folate and biotin, eggs help keep strands strong and healthy. Eggs also do wonders for the scalp by infusing the area with nutrients, allowing healthier  follicles to hang on to hair. 

6 Oats 

You’re probably aware that oats are high in fiber, which is beneficial for the digestive system. But did you know oats improve the health of your hair? Oats contain fatty acids and omega-3 fatty acids that reduce excess scalp oils and soothe inflammation, helping prevent hair loss in stress-related cases like telogen effluvium. Furthermore, oat is high in zinc, which keeps strands sturdy and less prone to breakage. (06)

7 Peas

Just like oats, green peas are a surprising superfood that’s good for your hair. Because green peas are full of iron and zinc, they strengthen hair and stimulate growth. Additionally, peas are also high in protein, which helps prevent or slow down hair loss. Interestingly enough, research regarding pea sprouts has shown promising results in slowing hair loss. (07)

You’re More than What You Eat

The saying goes that you are what you eat. While this may be true, you’re also more than what you consume. The environment, your genes, and your lifestyle all play some role in your health. And although a healthy well-balanced diet goes a long way to keeping a healthy head of hair, sometimes it takes more than superfoods to grow your locks back. For those cases, Happy Head is here to help. Our board-certified dermatologists will review your case and make recommendations that are unique to your needs. Customizable and delivered straight to your door, Happy Head’s prescription medications is the hair treatment you’ve been searching for. 

 

Resources: 

(01) https://medlineplus.gov/bvitamins.html

(02) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6380979/

(03) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23428658

(04) https://www.researchgate.net/publication/260993460_Vitamin_D_Deficiency_in_Alopecia_Areata

(05) https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/175171/nutrients

(06) https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25607907/

(07) https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31680356/

Diet and Hair Loss: Is There a Relationship?

 

When you’re losing your hair, you’ll try just about anything to make it stop.  Shampoos, conditioners, essential oils, vitamins… they’re all fair game.  The easier and less invasive, the better.  So, it’s only natural that diet is a hot topic.  Diet is a manageable lifestyle change that could make a difference.  

But, if you’re like most people, you probably have more questions than answers when it comes to how diet and nutrition affect your hair.  According to a 2017 study conducted by the International Food Information Council (IFIC), there’s a lot of conflicting information, causing confusion about what to eat.  Determining whether specific foods will help or hurt your hair loss condition is even more challenging.  We hear it all the time from patients.  “Can alopecia be reversed by changing my diet?”  “Which diet will best reduce the inflammation on my scalp?”  “Do I have to go gluten, dairy, and sugar-free?”  

Before you resort to radical measures, keep reading.  We’ll help you separate truth from fiction and share firsthand information from our own Dr. Ben Behnam, board-certified dermatologist and co-owner of Happy Head hair loss solutions.  

Can Improving Your Diet Prevent Further Hair Loss and Stimulate Growth?

Does what you eat affect your hair?  That’s the question that most people want to be answered.  After all, why bother changing your diet if it won’t make a difference?  The answer is yes; nutrition may indeed affect your hair.  One study found that nutritional deficiencies can cause telogen effluvium, androgenetic alopecia, or alopecia areata. It also found that over-supplementation can lead to hair loss as well.  

The Wrong Diet Really Can Cause Scalp Inflammation

Nutritional deficiencies aren’t the only problem.  Scalp inflammation caused by an unhealthy diet is another issue.  A high fat, high-cholesterol diet has been found to stimulate the inflammatory process on the scalp.  A study conducted in 2018 found that mice who were fed a traditional western diet experienced skin discoloration, inflammation, and hair loss.  The mice’s hair turned black, gray, then white before falling out.  The diet, which induced inflammation, mimicked the aging process in humans and aged the mice’s hair by 36 weeks.  The hypothesis is that when what you eat generates an inflammatory response, it causes your hair to age prematurely.  

Which Diet Should You Choose to Prevent Hair Loss?

Now that we’ve established that the wrong diet is a recipe for disaster when it comes to your hair, which diet should you consider?  Keto, Autoimmune Protocol (AIP), Mediterranean… the list of possibilities seems endless.   The truth is that further research is needed on the use of diet in alopecia treatment.  One study indicates that the Mediterranean diet, which contains foods with anti-inflammatory properties, may stimulate hair growth and health among people with androgenetic alopecia.  Figuring out the differences between each diet gets tricky, though. In many cases, overlap exists in the philosophies behind the diets.  

A Protein-rich Diet Helps Build Keratin

Regardless of which diet you choose, it’s important to select a protein-rich diet filled with fresh, unprocessed foods.  Hair is primarily composed of keratin, a mixture of filament-forming proteins.  To make keratin, your body needs protein.  All protein is not created equal, though, according to Dr. Behnam.  “Select pasture-raised chickens, raised on a farm and not in a cage,” says Behnam.  “When chickens are trapped in a cage, their testosterone levels increase from the stress of being in the cage.  When you eat caged chicken, you get extra testosterone that can potentially convert to DHT leading to more hair loss.”

Vegetarians Often Lack Enough Protein in Their Diets

Dr. Behnam finds that his patients who are vegetarians tend to lack the protein and vitamins necessary for adequate hair growth.  We’ll talk a little more about vitamins later, so let’s focus on protein for now.  Some excellent sources of plant protein can compensate for animal protein.  Those sources include nuts and nut butter, lentils, beans, peas, leafy green vegetables such as broccoli, spinach, and brussel sprouts.  

Dr. Behnam is a big advocate of protein powder, not only for vegetarians, but for all of his patients.  It’s important to use the right type, though.  According to Behnam, “Two types of protein powder are on the market.  One is whey protein isolate. Whey protein isolate powder is easily found in retail stores in muscle milk, and other types of sports shakes.  It’s less expensive.  The only problem is that whey protein isolate increases the concentration of amino acids such as valine and isoleucine, which lead to higher testosterone production.  That extra testosterone has the potential to convert to DHT and cause hair loss.  The solution is to use whey protein concentrate.  Whey protein concentrate is harder to find, but it will boost your protein without increasing your testosterone or DHT levels.”  

Do You Have to Give Up Caffeine?

If you can’t seem to get moving in the morning without a cup of coffee, don’t despair.  “Caffeine doesn’t affect testosterone levels,” says Dr. Behnam.  “You can enjoy it without worrying.  I recommend that you stay away from energy drinks, soy milk, and anything high in MSG, though.”  

Nutritional Supplements

Vitamins and supplements aren’t a big deal to most people.  You don’t need a prescription to get them, so they’re safe, right?  Not so fast.  Vitamins and supplements aren’t always as innocuous as they seem.  There are a couple of things you need to know:

  1. The FDA does not regulate dietary supplements
  2. Over-supplementation of selenium, Vitamin A, Vitamin E, and other vitamins have been associated with hair loss

That said, Dr. Behnam usually tests his patients’ Vitamin D and iron levels because deficiencies are prevalent and are well-documented reasons for hair loss.  Vitamin D plays a crucial role in the hair growth cycle.   While the exact reason why iron deficiency causes hair loss is unknown, reversal of iron deficiency in mice led to a reversal of hair  loss.  

Here’s the inside scoop on other essential vitamins:

Biotin

There has been a lot of hype about biotin supplements, shampoos, conditioners, and more.  Truth be told, biotin deficiency is rare.  Clinical trials have not shown biotin to be effective in stimulating hair growth without a true deficiency.  

Zinc

Zinc deficiency can be either acquired or inherited.  It is common among vegetarians since vegetables contain less zinc than meat.   Zinc deficiency causes telogen effluvium and brittle hair.

Vitamin A

Vitamin A is the main ingredient in retinoids and retinoic acid.  It has been proven to work in conjunction with Minoxidil and Finasteride to increase absorption of the medications.  Vitamin A deficiency does not cause hair loss, although a connection between over-supplementation and hair loss has been found.  

Vitamin E

It’s not common for people to have vitamin E deficiencies.  More research needs to be conducted, but in one small study with 21 participants, people who received vitamin E supplements had an increase in hair count compared to people in the placebo group.  Too much vitamin E is too much of a good thing.  It can increase the risk of bleeding and decrease thyroid hormone production, resulting in hair loss.   

Balancing Your Diet Is A Process

Learning how to eat for healthy hair takes time.  Sometimes you don’t know if changing your eating habits or adding a particular vitamin will help until you try it.  If you’ve already been diagnosed with male or female pattern hair loss or some other type of alopecia, supplementing your diet with topical medications such as Minoxidil, Finasteride, Spironolactone, or Duasteride may be a good option for you.  Topical medications have been found to be as effective as oral medications without the bothersome side effects.  Even better, like your diet, our formulas can be customized to meet your specific needs.  For more information, contact us to determine whether you are a good candidate for Happy Head or one of our other prescription-grade hair loss solutions. 

Resources:

(01) https://foodinsight.org/survey-nutrition-information-abounds-but-many-doubt-food-choices/

(02) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5315033/

(03) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6065400/

(04) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7109385/

(05) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5315033/

(06) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5315033/

(07) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5315033/

(08) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5582478/#:~:text=Despite%20its%20popularity%20in%20the,multiple%20factors%2C%20including%20patient%20history.

(09) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5315033/

(10) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5315033/

(11) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5315033/