Everyone wants great hair. The health of your hair is a direct reflection of your nutrition and lifestyle habits. My friend Amanda recently wrote a great blog about pregnancy and hair care. She was surprised by how much her hair changed when she got pregnant. While we usually shed an average 50-100 hairs per day, pregnancy is considered a resting stage and hair loss decreases, causing hair to thicken. The thickening is attributed to the increase in estrogen which promotes beautiful skin and hair versus high levels of testosterone that promote baldness. Hair is actually thickest in your 20 and 30’s when estrogen levels are peaking. During this time 70-90% of hair is in a growth phase compared to 30 % in your 40’s.
Knowing that your DNA and basic genetics can predetermine graying and balding, here are some tips to help you improve the health of your hair:
There are certain medications that can impact the health of your hair. Birth controls containing progesterone can shut down hair follicle production, as can thyroid problems, antidepressants and some acne medications. If you are required to take a medication that impacts your hair growth it would be important to follow some of the stress reduction guidelines and dietary recommendations to help counteract the effect.
The hair follicles are surrounded by stress hormone receptors and are vastly impacted by cortisol and adrenaline. Stress impacts the growth of your hair and can lead to thinning or even balding. Luckily we know that there are ways to reduce stress by making the relaxation response part of your daily routine. Learning to unwind and take some down time not only improves the health of your hair but also your nervous system, metabolism and mood. In Chinese Medicine the hair and bones are related to the kidney energies, our deepest reserves that we trade on a daily basis to fuel our activities. Working too hard, not sleeping enough and failing to eat a healthy diet all contribute to a acceleration of stress and the aging process.
It is important to eat a healthy diet for obvious reasons including hair health. In fact, depriving yourself of nutrients and vitamins will wreak havoc causing dullness, thinning and split ends. To strengthen hair include lots of antioxidant in fresh fruits and vegetables along with the following nutrients:
Protein is the building block of your hair
Zinc supports natural oils and contributes to shiny hair. Foods with high zinc content include liver, beef, lamb, venison, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, green peas, shrimp and mushrooms.
B vitamins support cell growth for regenerating hair follicles. Include fermented products, seaweeds and algae in your diet.
Iron fuels the enzymes that support hair growth (consume with Vitamin C (citrus) to improve absorption). Iron rich foods: liver, lean red meats,seafood, black beans, lentils, dark leafy greens, chicken, turkey, molasses, nuts and egg yolks.
Vitamin E helps with circulation which gives fresh blood supply to hair follicles. Vitamin E foods include: sunflower seeds, safflower oil, peanuts, spinach, broccoli, kiwi and mango.
Vitamin A keeps the hair root lubricated to support healthy hair. Vitamin A rich foods include: liver, sweet potatos, carrots, mangoes, spinach, cantaloupe, dried apricots, milk, egg yolks and mozzarella cheese.
Kathryn Flynn is the author of Cooking for Fertility: Foods to Nourish Your Fertile Soul. Kathryn supports men and women worldwide in achieving a healthy pregnancy through nutrition and lifestyle changes in her individual fertility nutrition consultations. For additional information, please feel free to email Kathryn.