Did you know? Your diet actually plays a huge role in the health and happiness of your hair and nails.
“Your hair, skin, and nails tend to spill all the secrets about your diet,” says Nutritionist Heather Hanks. “You can usually see how healthy someone is on the inside by the appearance of these things. It's very hard to have healthy hair and nails if you don't have a healthy diet.”
In addition to eating a diet high in hair and nail-boosting foods, such as fresh fruits and vegetables, Hanks recommends taking a multivitamin to make sure you don't have any nutritional deficiencies, “which can lead to weak hair and nails that don’t not grow properly.”
Ready to eat your way to healthier, happier hair and nails? Here are eight foods to incorporate into your wellness routine:
1. Fatty Fish
Omega-6 is an essential fatty acid that promotes hair, skin, and nail growth and strength. This fatty acid is found in fatty fish, mostly cold water fish (such as salmon, tuna, mackerel, and sardines), as well as some plant sources, like quinoa and flax. It’s recommended to take in around 250 to 500mg of DHA/EPA daily.
The anti-inflammatory properties of fatty acids can help reduce the inflammation present in nail beds, which can inhibit growth and strength if left unchecked.
Lisa Richards, Nutritionist, The Candida Diet
Eggs may be one of the best foods for hair and nails, because they provide so many nutrients beneficial to hair and nail growth. Eggs provide the following hair and nail nutrients: zinc, protein, vitamin D and vitamin A. Zinc plays an important role in hair health, and low zinc levels can lead to hair loss. Vitamin A is an important nutrient needed for healthy hair follicles, and vitamin D has been shown to help stimulate hair growth, as well.
Holly Klamer, MS, RDN, My Crohn's and Colitis Team
Collagen is the most abundant protein in the body, which makes it an essential food/supplement for hair and nail health. It's found naturally in your connective tissues and is responsible for providing structural support to various body parts, including hair and nails.
As we age, our collagen levels naturally decline. However, supplementing with collagen can help replace low levels and strengthen your hair and nails so that they hold up better over time.
There are several other benefits of taking collagen, such as reduced joint pain and improved gut health. Look for a collagen supplement that comes from organic, pasture-raised sources that are free from hormones and antibiotics. Beef provides the most complete and bioavailable source of collagen, so that you absorb it properly, but there are vegetarian options available as well. Most of my clients sneak collagen into their diet by adding collagen powder to their morning coffee.
Nutritionist Heather Hanks
A rich source of vitamin D and calcium, almonds provide nutritional support for your bones, hair, skin, teeth, and nails.
Be sure to opt for raw organic almonds with no added salt for maximum benefit. Roasted nuts are more acidic, processed, and often contaminated with pesticides, mold, toxins, and other environmentally dangerous chemicals
Toby Dash, Founder, Five Star Skincare
Protein is beneficial for a variety of functions, including hair and nail health. Since both are made up of structural proteins, called keratin, adequate dietary protein is essential for providing the building blocks for healthy hair and nails. Lean meats, like chicken, eggs, low-fat dairy, and seafood are a great choice for meat eaters, while nuts, soybeans, and whole grains can be a good source of protein for vegetarians.
Ben Rose, Co-founder of Trainer Academy
Oats contain protein, B-vitamins, magnesium, potassium, biotin, and antioxidants that all play a great role in making your hair healthy and nails strong. Oats are also highly regarded for their versatility and accessibility; you can prepare them in a lot of ways, from a quick breakfast meal to homemade oatmeal bars.
Niyla Carson, Nutritionist, Fast Food Menu Prices
This group of plant foods, including beans, peas, and lentils, is packed with biotin, zinc, and protein. Zinc, in particular, is required for cell growth and division. The cells found in hair and nails grow and divide rapidly, making it important for you to take in adequate amounts of zinc to keep them strong and growing. Legumes can be added to almost any recipe, especially rice dishes!
Trista Best, MPH, RD, LD, Balance One Supplements
Dark chocolate contains high levels of the “beauty mineral” zinc. Primarily, zinc protects your immune system by encouraging the growth of white blood cells that fight off bacteria, infections, and viruses. It’s also an important beauty mineral due to its antioxidant effects that protect the body from UV rays and other free radical damage — this is why you find it in mineral sunscreens.
Zinc aids in rapid cell production needed by your hair and nails. A zinc deficiency results in slow-growing hair and weak splitting nails. It is also believed to help with liver detoxification, which we know from Traditional Chinese Medicine and Face Mapping is a major factor in healthy skin, hair and nails.
Gabrielle Richens, Certified Nail Technician, The Rich Skin Club
Recap: what vitamins came up again and again in this article? Zinc and vitamin D! Known as “the beauty mineral,” zinc promotes new cell growth, which is incredibly important for the health of your hair and nails. Meanwhile, Vitamin D directs additional nutritional support to these areas.
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