Can what you eat affect the appearance of your hair and nails?
To some extent, yes. Your hair and nails feed off nutrients in the blood stream, and you make those nutrients available by eating healthy foods.
Are there certain foods that are particularly beneficial for hair and nails?
We’ve got some suggestions for you here.
Nutrients that are Critical to Healthy Hair and Nails
Below, we look at some of the nutrients that hair and nails need to look their best. Once we know what nutrients are most helpful, we can choose foods that are high in those nutrients when we want to make our nails stronger or our hair more vibrant.
Both hair and nails are made up largely of a protein called “keratin,” which is a tough protein that keeps hair and nails strong. Eating foods that are rich in protein can help ensure that the body has enough keratin to keep hair and nails healthy.
Food choices: lean meats, nuts, soybeans, and whole grains.
Biotin, also called vitamin B7, is key for healthy hair, and helps keep it strong so its better able to resist splitting and thinning. Those who don’t get enough biotin may have brittle hair or hair that breaks frequently.
Food choices: bananas, eggs, salmon, nuts, and beans.
Your hair and nails are constantly renewed and replenished by fast growing cells that rapidly reproduce. Zinc helps support healthy cell division. If you’re not getting enough, your nails may split or become discolored, or may not grow as they should.
Food choices: oysters, beef, lamb, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, lentils, cashews.
4. Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3 fatty acids help support scalp health, and can also help keep your hair shiny. These fatty acids help moisturize the deeper layers of the skin in the scalp, and help keep it from becoming overly dry, which in turn, nourishes the hair strands.
Food choices: flaxseed, eggs, fish oil, fatty fish, sardines, spinach, walnuts.
Calcium contributes to strong bones, but it also helps keep hair and nails strong, too. In fact, people who are deficient in calcium often show it in weak hair and splitting nails. Just consuming more calcium in supplements isn’t usually the answer, though, as calcium needs other nutrients for the body to absorb it properly.
Look for food combinations that will give you calcium and vitamin D, which helps the body use this important mineral.
Food choices: dairy products, tuna, spinach, collards, cheese, eggs.
6. Vitamin A
Vitamin A is involved in producing the natural skin oil known as “sebum.” The scalp needs this oil to stay hydrated and to keep hair properly moisturized and shiny.
Food choices: beef liver, egg yolks, sweet potatoes, kale, broccoli, spinach, winter squash.
You know how your hair gets wiggy when you’re stressed out? (Your nails too, probably.) That’s partly because stress uses up your magnesium stores, and magnesium helps keep hair and nails strong and smooth.
Food sources: pumpkin seeds, dark chocolate, spinach, yogurt, almonds, black beans.
One More Thought
It’s also good to make sure your diet is rich in foods that provide antioxidants, as they help protect skin, hair, and nails from free radical damage. Choose berries, dark leafy greens, dark chocolate, kidney beans, artichokes, apples, nuts, and potatoes.
Do you eat to protect your hair and nails?