We often find on consultations questions about diet are met with puzzlement by patients.
People with hair and scalp issues do not usually correlate the two things.
But how you eat has a huge impact on the health of your whole body, including your skin and hair growth.
Getting the right nutrients, in the right quantities is critically important. Many peoples lifestyle, including their diet, affects the sufficiency or deficiency of key hair and scalp nutrients.
Any deficiency in nutrients will probably affect hair growth as it is one of the most energetic cell replication systems in the body. Hair is not essential for health and is a low priority for nutrient utilisation and prioritisation.
In fact, hair problems are often a signal of issues elsewhere in the body.
There are some specific proteins, vitamins and minerals that are vitally important nutrients for hair health.
There’s a lot to unpack here so we’ve split it into two manageable parts so it’s easier to digest (pun alert!).
Part 1 covers Protein, Minerals and Superfoods.
Part 2 covers Vitamins, Fats, and Anti-nutrients.
If you’ve already read this one Part 2 is here.
Everyone knows that most parts of our body made out of protein. Hair is also a protein filament. Hair is an important biomaterial primarily composed of protein, notably alpha-keratin.
Alpha-keratin contains 90% protein and is a polypeptide chain containing some 20 amino acids, such as arginine, lysine, leucine, histidine, proline, threonine, alanine, glycine and cysteine.
Lack of these amino acids protein even a significant cause of hair loss. We should consume enough amount of protein.
The best sources of bioavailable proteins are ‘animal proteins’, which include fish, eggs, meat, poultry and cheese.
The ‘essential amino acids’ (Arginine, Histidine, Isoleucine, Leucine, Lysine, Methionine, Phenylalanine, Threonine, Tryptophan and Valine) are all required for hair structure and can only be found in certain foods. They cannot be made in the body. Only animal protein contains all the essential amino acids, and these proteins are much more bioavailable in animal products than plants.
We recommend at least 1g of a protein per kilogram of lean body muscle with breakfast or lunch. Remember, meat is more than just protein. E.g. 100g of beef steak only contains c25g of protein, the rest is made up of water (58g), fat (15g) and other micronutrients.
Iron is probably the most important mineral for hair. Iron helps in the development of red blood cells. Red blood cells help to carry oxygen around the body. Iron deficiency / anaemia will result in less oxygen, and less hair growth.
Food sources high in Iron
Selenium helps lots of inner body function. Many enzymes need selenium for optimal functioning. It is also an antioxidant particle that help stop the free radical damage inside the cell. Its anti-inflammatory properties help to promote a healthy scalp.
Food sources high in Selenium
- Sea Food
- Poultry Eggs
Zinc is a vital mineral nutrient for hair growth. Research shows that zinc is required to repair cells and help to regrowth. Zinc deficiency weakens the cell and therefore its ability to replicate hair cell growth.
Food sources high in Zinc
- Red Meat
- Sea Food
Magnesium is involved in more than 600 reactions in your body, including:
Energy creation: Helps convert food into energy.
Protein formation: Helps create new proteins from amino acids.
Gene maintenance: Helps create and repair DNA and RNA.
Muscle movements: Is part of the contraction and relaxation of muscles.
Nervous system regulation: Helps regulate neurotransmitters, which send messages throughout your brain and nervous system.
Low magnesium intake is linked to chronic inflammation, which is one of the drivers of aging, obesity and chronic disease.
Unfortunately, studies suggest that about 50% of people in the US and Europe get less than the recommended daily amount of magnesium.
Food sources high in Magnesium
- Bone broth
- Dark chocolate (70–85% cocoa)
Copper is an essential trace element that is vital to the health of all living things. In humans, copper is essential to the proper functioning of organs and metabolic processes.
The human body has complex homeostatic mechanisms which attempt to ensure a constant supply of available copper, while eliminating excess copper whenever this occurs.
Thus, this trace element is absorbed, transported, preserved and removed from the body as necessary. It is stored in a range of enzymes within the blood and cells throughout the body.
However, like all essential elements and nutrients, too much or too little nutritional ingestion of copper can result in a unique set of adverse health effects.
Copper is not only necessary to support hair colour, it’s also essential for maintaining the structure of the hair shaft. Since this trace element plays a key role in the formation of the hair shaft, a deficiency can cause hair to become thin and brittle quickly.
Copper is needed to help with the absorption of iron (along with vitamin C). Excess Vitamin C and zinc could inhibit copper absorption.
Food sources high in Copper
- Organ meats
- Shellfish (oysters, lobster, crab, mussels)
- Nuts (almonds, walnuts, cashews, macadamias)
Calcium plays a role in strengthening bones and teeth; regulating muscle functioning, such as contraction and relaxation; regulating heart functioning; blood clotting; transmission of nervous system messages and enzyme function.
Calcium is required for vascular contraction and vasodilation, muscle function, nerve transmission, intracellular signalling and hormonal secretion, and so sufficiency and availability with adequate Vitamin D is essential for a healthy body and hair.
Food sources high in Calcium
- Bone broth
- Yogurt, plain,
- Sardines, canned in oil, with bones
- Cheddar cheese
- Salmon, pink, canned, solids with bone
Beef / Lamb / Pork (especially the livers): Contain highly bioavailable essential amino acids (Beef for example Arginine, Histidine, Isoleucine, Leucine, Lysine, Methionine, Phenylalamine, Threonine, Tryptophan and Valine), Fats, Vitamins and Minerals.
Oily cold water fish (Sardines, Mackerel, Salmon, Herring,): Contain highly bioavailable essential amino acids (Salmon for example has Histidine, Isoleucine, Leucine, Lysine, Methionine, Phenylalamine, Threonine, Tryptophan and Valine), Omega-3, Selenium, Vitamin D3, and some B Vitamins.
Oysters: Contain highly bioavailable essential amino acids, Vitamins A, B6, c, Magnesium, Iron, and Zinc. Plus Sodium and Potassium.
Eggs: Contain highly bioavailable all the essential amino acids (Arginine, Histidine, Isoleucine, Leucine, Lysine, Methionine, Phenylalanine, Threonine, Tryptophan and Valine) plus a further 8. Contains good levels of Vitamins A, Choline, B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B12, D, E and K and Calcium. Plus Sodium, Phosphorous and Potassium.
Cheese: Contain highly bioavailable essential amino acids (Histidine, Isoleucine, Leucine, Lysine, Methionine, Phenylalamine, Threonine, Tryptophan and Valine), Calcium, Vitamin A, B6, D, K2, Magnesium, Iron and Zinc, Plus Sodium and Potassium.
One of the main reasons many of our patients are recommended the Hair Fact programme is that is provides a foundational support to common micronutrient deficiencies.
Bioavailability of these nutrient depends also on their relationships to each other, some are needed in combination, and some are antagonistic and need to be kept apart.
Hair Fact isolates and cycles the right nutrients that work best together or best apart.
For example, administered together, vitamin C can destroy vitamin B12. Iron and calcium reduce the absorption of one another. High vitamin C, increases sodium & reduces potassium levels.
Nutrients are also synergistic: Vitamin E regenerates Beta carotene. Vitamin C regenerates vitamin E.
Calcium requires Vitamin D to be properly utilised so they are combined in Grace Cal for taking on Monday & Thursday. No Vitamin D, no Calcium used. And vice versa.
Iron and Vitamin C work together and are combined in Grace Tricho Ferum for taking on Tuesday and Friday
Part 2 is here.