A full head of healthy hair is considered, by most, a sign that you are in good health, and of course that you take good care of your hair. It is also a good sign that your diet includes plenty of the right nutrients. Unhealthy hair or hair loss are often signs that you are not getting all of the right nutrients. Whether from an unbalanced diet or a medical condition these imbalances show up as dull, dry, fly away hair, or hair that no longer has the bounce and volume it once did.
One of the biggest problems with any type of nutritional deficiencies is it can take time for many of the symptoms to appear. Your hair is one part of your body that falls into the “slow to respond category to any stimulus category.” While your hair will quickly respond to nutritional deficits, it is much slower to respond to the restoration of the missing nutrients.
Hair consists mostly of protein and needs plenty of it to be healthy, but if you want your hair to grow and continue to be healthy, it also needs a steady diet of vitamins and minerals. In an ideal world most people would get these nutrients from the foods they consume. However, in our busy world, it does not always work that way. All too often busy schedules mean short cuts in nutrition. If your diet is deficient in one or more of these vital nutrients, the growth rate and condition of your hair are going to decline.
Along with poor nutrition, other issues can lead to the loss of hair quality and quantity. Among these are aging, alcoholism, chronic illness, congenital heart disease, malignancy, and neuromuscular disease. Genetics also play a role in the condition of your hair as can trauma, stress, exposure to heavy metals, certain medications, and smoking. Nutrition is only one answer, if your hair does not respond to better nutrients, it is important to check out other reasons your hair may not be looking its best, especially getting checked for illness since this is a common symptom of many illnesses.
Of all the tissues that make up your body, hair grows the fastest. The average hair growth rate ranges from 0.5cm to 1.7cm per month. The most rapid rate of growth is typically between the ages of 15 and 30 and starts to slow down between the ages of 40 and 50. Other things that can affect the rate of hair growth also include nutritional deficiency, thyroid disease, polycystic ovaries, and menopause, etc.
Fast food does not equate to fast hair growth or healthy hair nor does stress. With this in mind, it is essential that your body contains sufficient amounts of the right minerals and vitamins to meet the metabolic needs of your hair’s follicle cells. Nutritionists agree that people suffering from deficiencies in these nutrients tend to have limp or stringy hair that is dry and dull. Some may even experience hair loss. The good news is that once you rebuild these nutrients to their appropriate levels, the health of your hair can be restored.
Going on a crash diet or suffering from bulimia, anorexia, and certain medical conditions can lead to hair loss. When your body feels as though it is under threat nutritionally, it starts to prioritize where the nutrition you take in goes. This means it goes to vital organs like your brain, heart, and liver, instead of to your hair follicles. This means your hair is likely to suffer first and can actually be a sign that something is not right with your health or nutrition.
When trying to improve and maintain your hair’s health the most important thing you can do is to eat a healthy diet that is abundant in Vitamins A, C, D, & E, and Biotin which is a form of Vitamin B. Let’s take a look at each vitamin, what it does to improve hair health, and look at where good sources for each vitamin can be found.
Vitamin A is one of the most essential vitamins your body needs. Your body uses vitamin A to help with vital functions such as growth, development, cell growth, immune function, and vision. When it comes to your hair, Vitamin A helps aid in the production of sebum in your scalp. The sebum helps keep your hair from drying out. Good sources of vitamin A (the most common form is Beta-Carotene) are carrots, peaches, cantaloupes, sweet potatoes, and dark leafy green vegetables such as spinach.
While vitamin A is vital to healthy hairy, it is possible to “overdose” on it. Having too much vitamin A in your system has been found to have the opposite effect. Instead of helping to keep your hair healthy, reduce hair loss, and encourage new hair growth, excessive amounts of vitamin A can lead to hair loss.
The number of advertisements touting the benefits of biotin for your hair are almost overwhelming. They all claim to be able to help you grow longer, healthier hair. And it is one of the most popular supplements used to increase the rate of hair growth, which is a vital part of creating a healthy head of hair. Biotin helps your body to produce glucose while at the same time breaking down proteins into the amino acids your hair needs to remain healthy.
This form of vitamin B comes from foods such as dark leafy greens, walnuts, lentils, raspberries and wild-caught Salmon. Other sources include liver, soy, and eggs. Although the use of biotin supplements may have some effect on hair growth and health, insufficient research has been done to produce conclusive evidence, you are always better off getting vitamins from your food whenever possible.
Everyone knows vitamin C is used to boost our immune systems, which helps keep us from getting colds, scurvy, and numerous other illnesses. Most people do not realize that vitamin C is also essential to healthy hair. Vitamin C is an essential building block in the production of collagen. Collagen is a critical “structural protein” your body uses to maintain strong, healthy hair as well as nails and skin.
Vitamin C is also an antioxidant and helps rid your body of free radicals that are responsible for damage to your body’s tissues. Another important role of vitamin C is your body’s utilization of it to help with the absorption iron from the other foods you eat. Without this essential vitamin, the tissue damage can extend all the way to your hair. This deficiency can make your hair become brittle and weak, cause split ends, and may also be responsible for some hair loss.
Papers published by the World Health Organization (WHO), show that millions of people around the world suffer from vitamin D deficiency. Here in the United States, approximately 85 percent of the population suffers from a lack of vitamin D. Being deficient in this vitamin has been linked to numerous medical conditions, including certain cancers, autoimmune disorders, and bone loss.
At the same time, D is essential to maintain healthy follicle growth. Recent studies have determined that vitamin D may help generate new hair follicles and lead to hair restoration. If your body does not have sufficient quantities of vitamin D, you could end up with the inability to grow more hair or suffer hair loss. The best source of vitamin D is the sun. Your body produces vitamin D when it is exposed to sunlight.
Doctors recommend that you should spend at least 15 minutes in the sun every day to keep your vitamin D levels where they should be. You can also get plenty of vitamin D from foods like wild-caught salmon, tuna, eggs, and milk.
Vitamin E is another antioxidant that constantly works to destroy free radicals and in doing so protect your cells from damage. This is only one of vitamin E’s job. This essential vitamin helps to repair damaged cells and build new tissues that are vital in helping to keep your hair healthy.
As you might expect, leafy green vegetables are an excellent source of vitamin E along with many other vital nutrients. Eating plenty of leafy greens, salmon, tuna, seeds, and nuts are all excellent sources of vitamin E. You may not know this, but 1/4 cup of sunflower seeds can provide you with up to 80 percent of the daily recommended daily intake of vitamin E. At the same time, one cup of fresh spinach can provide you with approximately 40 percent.
Unless you maintain a sterling diet, the answer is probably yes, as there’s almost no way you’d run the risk of poisoning yourself on too much if you’re eating a standard American diet, or a few deviations either side of it. A good base of collagen, cod liver or krill oil, and a multivitamin would all be a good place to start.
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