Healthy, lustrous hair is a sign of good overall health; while unhealthy or brittle hair can signal problems. Your hair, which is comprised of mostly protein, needs the same well-rounded diet of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients needed for good health in the rest of your body.
The vitamins and minerals you take in every day help fortify the hair follicle and scalp, as well as provide essential nutrients for healthy cell development. Healthier follicles and a healthier scalp mean healthier hair.
“When an older person’s hair looks brittle, dry, and sparse, it’s often a sign that their diet is inadequate,” says Kathleen Niedert, RD, director of clinical nutrition and dining services for Western Home Communities in Iowa.
Choose Antioxidants for Healthier Hair
Antioxidant vitamins A, C and E are especially important for hair health. These antioxidant vitamins can protect against cell damage by harmful free-radicals; helping to fortify cells all over the body – including the hair.
Vitamin A: As the antioxidant beta carotene, vitamin A helps protect and produce the oils that sustain your scalp, plus supports essential cell function throughout the body; including the hair follicle. Being low on vitamin A can also leave you with an itchy, dry scalp and dandruff.
Vitamin C: Critical for circulation to the scalp, vitamin C supports the tiny blood vessels that feed the follicles. Too little vitamin C in your diet can lead to hair breakage.
Vitamin E: Helps with blood circulation and leads to a healthier scalp. It also helps protect your cells from DNA damage. Since your hair rarely gets much shielding from the sun, this is especially beneficial.
Other important dietary factors for healthy hair include:
- Vitamin D: Some studies suggest that vitamin D may play a role in the hair cycle.
- B vitamins: B vitamins play a vital role in cell metabolism and the formation of red blood cells.
- Iron: Involved in the production of the various proteins that make up your hair.
- Protein: A strand of hair is composed of mostly protein, which means your hair needs protein to grow.
If you aren’t able to get all the vitamins and minerals you need for healthy hair from your diet alone, consider adding a well-balanced supplement like Geritol® multivitamin.
Hair Care Directory. Healthy Beauty. 2005-2013 WebMD. Retrieved from: http://www.webmd.com/healthy-beauty/hair-care-directory January 17, 2013.
Top 10 Foods for Healthy Hair. Healthy Beauty. 2005-2013 WebMD. Retrieved from: http://www.webmd.com/healthy-beauty/features/top-10-foods-for-healthy-hair?page=2 January 17, 2013.
B Vitamins. November 07, 2012. U.S. National Library of Medicine. Retrieved from: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/bvitamins.html January 17, 2013.