Both men and women long for a full head of healthy and shiny hair. There is no miracle solution that causes spontaneous growth or even faster growth; however, a person can improve that overall appearance of their locks by simply making modifications to their diet.
The Growth Cycle of Hair
Hair grows at a rate of about six inches a year. There is a cycle to hair growth, with three distinct phases. Interestingly, the cycle is completely random. Different hairs are in different stages of a hair cycle, and one person’s hair cycle can be completely different from another’s. Hair goes through a transitional phase, called the catagen phase, a resting phase, called the telogen phase, and an active phase, or the anagen phase.
The active phase is when the hair grows until it eventually falls out. This phase can take anywhere from two to six years. Those who have shorter active phases have trouble keeping their hair long, while those whose hair remains in the active phase up to six years appear to have hair that “grows faster.” In fact, they just have hair that doesn’t fall out as quickly. It is important to realize that this does mean they necessarily have a thinner head of hair, but rather that they have a faster hair cycle.
Poor Nutrition Can Disrupt the Hair Cycle
Hair itself is made up of protein. Therefore, diets low in protein can cause thinning in hair or even slow down the growth cycle. A diet rich in protein will help maintain a full head of hair. Healthy sources of protein are those that are lowest in saturated fat. These include eggs, beans, fish, low-fat poultry like chicken or turkey, and even yogurt.
Diet deficient in certain vitamins can also cause thinning, frizzy, or dry and brittle hair. Different healthy hair vitamins are important for different reasons. To improve the appearance of your head of hair, make sure you get your daily intake of the following:
- B-vitamins: B, B-5, and B-12 are the most commonly known vitamins for healthy hair. You can get your B vitamins AND your protein in foods like eggs, poultry, milk, and fish.
- Vitamins A and D: These healthy hair vitamins help prevent baldness and increase sebum, which is especially helpful to those who have especially dry hair. Get your Vitamin A from various meats and dairy products, eggs (eggs are so good for you!), vegetables like broccoli and spinach, and fruits such as peaches. Get your fill of Vitamin D from healthy fats in fish and eggs, or from a good long sit in the sun, provided you protect your skin and hair from dangerous UV rays. Healthy fats help hair stay shiny, hydrated, and elastic.
- Zinc: Zinc not only stimulates hair growth, but also boosts the immune system, making it one of the especially valuable healthy hair vitamins. Get zinc in whole grains and milk.
- Beta-carotene: Carrots may not make your hair curly, but can help make it shiny and strong. Beta-carotene converts to vitamin A as needed, promoting healthy hair. Get this healthy hair vitamin in carrots, sweet potatoes, and squash.
- Silica: A lesser known but none-the-less vital vitamin for healthy hair. Silica helps mineral absorption and therefore helps stave off baldness, and contributes to hair growth and luster.
- Water: Not a vitamin, but important none the less. Hydration helps hair stay shiny and hydrated. Hydrated hair is less likely to break, meaning fewer split ends and longer, more healthy looking hair.
Get Healthy Hair Vitamins in a Supplement
It is difficult to always maintain a perfect diet, so taking a multi-vitamin daily will help keep your hair strong and healthy. (Remember that the best way to get any vitamin is through fresh foods.) Gender-specific multi-vitamins should contain most all of the above mentioned healthy hair vitamins. There are also specific vitamin combinations designed to especially promote healthy hair.