You better believe it: what you eat can totally affect the growth and feel of your hair. If you're not eating the right nutrients, in the right doses each day, those pretty strands could become brittle and fall out. Yikes! The good news is that as long as you're taking care of your body and hair through nourishment, your hair will likely be shiny, strong, and healthy. Here, dietitians explain the link between diet and hair loss.
What Nutrients You Need
Your hair needs nutrients, just like the rest of your body. Hair strands are mainly composed of protein, which means if you aren't eating enough protein in the day, you could notice thinning hair that might fall out easier, Natalie Rizzo, MS, RD, told POPSUGAR. To get enough protein, look to steak, fish, chicken, dairy products, eggs, legumes, beans, and soy foods.
"Foods rich in iron also contribute to hair health. The hair follicle and root need to be fed by a healthy nutrient- (and iron-) rich blood supply," said Rizzo. If a person becomes deficient in iron, hair may begin to shed. Foods that contain iron include animal products, like red meat, chicken, and fish, as well as lentils and leafy greens.
You also need biotin and healthy fats, like omega-3 fatty acids and adequate monounsaturated fats, in particular, Kelly Jones, MS, RD, CSSD, LDN, told POPSUGAR. These are important for hair to break less and maintain a smooth texture. Meanwhile, biotin is produced in our digestive tracts, so an unhealthy balance of gut bacteria can actually impact its production and therefore hair health. Consider taking a probiotic to get your gut in check.
Selenium can also prevent hair loss, but you only need a little. "Selenium also plays a role in hair and tissue growth, as well as in antioxidant function. Just eating a couple of brazil nuts each day can provide all the selenium you need," says Jones.
Why You Need to Eat Enough, Too
"Hair is a protein that requires not only protein to grow, but also enough calories and nutrients that aid in building protein in the body," said Jones. That's why it's common for people suffering from anorexia to develop bald spots, explained Rizzo.
Restricting calories or carbohydrates means your body will use body protein as an energy source, which isn't an efficient source of energy and compromises tissue growth, including hair, skin, and nails, Jones said. What's more, if you're hitting the gym hard and not eating enough food, you'll speed hair loss, she added. To avoid this, be sure to eat regular meals that are packed with these key nutrients.