Hair-Nourishing Nutrients and Food

Written By: Sofia Layarda, MPH

Title: Master of Public Health

Alumni: University of California, Berkeley

Last Updated on:

Do you spend lots of money on hair products to achieve healthy, vibrant hair? Instead of being so focused on what you use on your hair to keep it healthy, have you considered that you can keep your hair healthy through the foods you eat?

Hair-Nourishing Nutrients

Omega-3 fatty acids

Omega-3 fatty acids are important for fully functioning cell membranes. Brittle hair and skin could signal deficiency of omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids are also found in the naturally occurring oils in the hair as well as the scalp. Omega-3 fatty acids are plentiful in oily fish such as salmon. Plant sources include flaxseed and walnuts.


Beta-carotene is a precursor to Vitamin A, which helps ensure the production of the oily substance sebum, which keeps your scalp and hair moisturized and supple. In addition, Vitamin A is needed for cell growth, including hair cells. It is not recommended to take Vitamin A as a supplement because high doses can be toxic. Instead, focus on foods rich in beta-carotene, such as carrots, sweet potatoes, and squash, including pumpkin.


Biotin helps ensure the proper metabolism of carbohydrates, fat, and protein from the foods we eat. Biotin is a nutrient often recommended for healthy hair and may be something you have seen in an ad for shampoo or other hair products. Some biotin is produced by bacteria in the intestine, and it is also found in many common foods we eat, including almonds, eggs, lentils, and raspberries.


Zinc is an important nutrient for healthy hair and helps prevent shedding. Fortunately, zinc is easy to obtain through protein-rich foods such as poultry and eggs. One particularly rich source of zinc is oysters.


Iron is part of the molecule hemoglobin, which carries oxygen to all parts of the body, including your hair and scalp. Lack of iron can lead to iron deficiency anemia, one symptom of which can be hair loss.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C enhances the absorption of non-heme iron from foods. It is also needed in the formation of collagen, an important component of connective tissue. Healthy connective tissue is a crucial factor for healthy hair because it includes the tissue in the scalp, as well as blood vessels supplying the hair follicles. All the more reason to include foods such as oranges, berries, or a bowl of steaming hot tomato soup in your daily routine.

The Bottom Line

Looking at the list, it is clear that the basics of a good diet benefit all parts of your body, including your hair. Don’t be discouraged if you don’t notice hair improvements right away, because any dietary changes you make now will only affect new growth, not hair you already have. Depending on how fast your hair grows, this may take anywhere from a few months to a year.

Groceries, Nutrition 101

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