Eating Your Way to Healthy Hair

You do almost everything to maintain healthy hair: You wash and condition it regularly, you stay away from blow dryers, curling irons, and all manner of other heat-styling devices, you neither perm nor bleach it, you use a scrunchie rather than an elastic when pulling it up into a ponytail, you wear a bathing cap when swimming, you've even invested in satin pillowcases and a boar-bristle brush. But if you're not consuming the nutrients that healthy hair requires, you might as well let your mane wither into a brittle mass of knots. Your diet is crucial to the maintenance of luxurious locks. In fact, certain restricted-calorie/restricted-fat diets can wreak havoc on your follicles, yielding dull, lifeless strands and sometimes even hair loss. Drawing your meals from the following foods will ensure healthy hair, but remember that eating right won't produce results overnight; it might take six months to a year for your nutritional efforts to take shape.

Protein, vitamin B, and zinc: Or more specifically, iron-rich protein, which supports the production of hair-strengthening keratin. Your body more easily absorbs this type of protein from meat than it does from vegetables. Any lean meat will do, so why not try buffalo? It's leaner than chicken with just 1.8 grams of fat for every 100 grams of meat. It's also a great source of healthy-hair-promoting zinc and vitamin B12; zinc is necessary for tissue growth and maintenance and ensures that the oil glands function properly while B vitamins such as B12, B6, and folate are vital to the creation of red blood cells, which supply the scalp and follicles with nutrients. Shellfish, like clams and oysters, also offer plenty of iron-rich protein, B vitamins, and zinc. But if you prefer to get your protein from vegetables, you can't go wrong with lentils or soybeans, which have B6 and folate, respectively, to boot.

Vitamins A and C: If you pair a food chock-full of ascorbic acid with a vegetable-based iron-rich protein, you'll boost your body's ability to extract that protein. A tofu stir-fry with broccoli and peppers is a good combo. Vitamin C also plays an important role in the formation of collagen, which is important to hair growth, so you may want to top off that stir-fry with a smoothie made from guava, oranges, and strawberries. Meanwhile, vitamin A is not just good for your eyesight; it is also key to the preservation of healthy hair and skin. The best sources of vitamin A are carrots and liver. Indeed, the ancient Egyptians used liver to cure night blindness, a symptom of vitamin A deficiency.