22 MAY, 2013

Shiny hair and nutrition

Maintaining the good health and shine of our hair appears to go through our stomach. Studies show that hair’s health is directly related to the quality of our food. An unbalanced diet can result in our hair fibers not receiving nutrients essential to its growth and thus, they are weak. So, the question that arises, is how can we shield our body and especially our hair, through our diet?

The main ingredients associated with the good or bad health of hair are iron, zinc, vitamin C, amino acides, such as lycine and taurine, omega-3 fats, vitamin A and vitamin from the vitamin B complex.

Iron

Iron deficiency is one of the main causes for hair loss. Consequently, individuals who exhibit low levels of iron must enhance their diet with iron sources.

Table 1: Foods rich in iron

FoodsPortion (gr)Iron (mg)
Cooke beef liver100 gr6.5 mg
Boiled spinach100 gr3.6 mg
Cooked lentils100 gr3.3 mg
Lean cooked beef100 gr2.8 mg
2 large boiled eggs100 gr1.2 mg
Cooked chicken100 gr1.0 mg

 

In food, iron can either be a heme (animal product) or nonheme (vegetable product.) We now know that the absorption of iron is much higher from animal sources than from vegetable sources; heme iron is absorbed at a rate ranging from 8-40%, whereas nonheme is absorbed at a 0.5-6% rate.

Foods that facilitate the absorption of iron:
Kiwi, broccoli, strawberries, oranges, tangrrines, grapes, spinach, lemon

Zinc

Zinc is also an important trace element for combating hair loss. It is involved in the synthesis of keratin and thus necessary for healthy hair growth. Good sources of zinc are red meat, seafood, liver, chicken, oats, milk and eggs.

L – Lysine

L lysine is an amino acid that is directly related to the health of our hair, as it plays an active role in the absorption of iron and zinc. We mainly find it in legumes – lentils, beans, chickpeas etc.

Omega-3 fats

Omega-3 fats are one of the ingredients found in the scalp and in the cell membrane of the scalp. They are directly related to hair hydration. We can find omega-3 fats in salmon, nuts, such as walnuts and linseed, as well as, wild greens, such as purslane.

Vitamin A

Vitamin A is important for the natural life cycle of our hair cells. Deficiency in vitamin A could result in hair dryness, which would make hair weak and fragile. Important sources of vitamin A are mainly of animal origin, such as liver, butter and dairy products, as well as, carrots and leafy vegetables, such as lettuce, which contain vitamin A in its pre-vitaminic form.

Vitamins from vitamin B Complex

Vitamins of the vitamin B Complex also play a vital role in hair growth, especially Pantothenic acid, Pyridoxine and Biotin, all of which contribute to the synthesis of amino acids and all of which are essential ingredients of the hair stem and hair follicles. The best sources for vitamins from the vitamin B Complex are read meat, eggs, whole wheat cereal and nuts.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C contributes to collagen synthesis, which is the basis of the hair follicles, from which hair is reproduced and regenerates. Foods rich in vitamin C include citrus fruits and juices (oranges, tangerines), kiwi, strawberries, berries, peppers, tomatoes, broccoli, purple cabbage and spinach.

Taurine

Taurine is a natural amino acid, it is present in high concentration in the muscles, the brain and the heart and plays a decisive role in the nervous system, in thermoregulation and in the endogenous detoxification process. Studies have shown that it prevents the deformation of the hair bulb, contributing greatly to the good health of the hair. Good sources of taurine are seaweed, calamari (squid), octopus and seafood in general, as well as, fish.

By following a balanced diet we can ensure the health of our hair and avoid hair loss, when the hair loss is a result of nutritional deficiencies. At the same time, we must avoid the extreme and intensely hypocaloric diets, which are often deficient in vitamins and minerals and that gradually lead to the weakening of the hair. Finally, the adequate intake of fluids is necessary to keep hair moisturized.




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