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Nutrition for healthy hair

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A few key hair vitamins and minerals can make a real difference to your hair’s health and appearance. Find out what they are and which foods deliver the biggest hit.

It’s no secret that a nutritious, well-balanced diet has an important role to play in your overall health and wellbeing, but you might not know that it can also affect how happy and healthy your hair is. In fact, there are some key nutrients that can make or break (quite literally!) your hair.

1. Iron

It’s a mineral that’s often associated with energy levels, but low iron levels may also be linked to an increased risk of hair loss . One explanation is that sufficient iron is required to supply energy to the cells responsible for hair production.

You’ll find it in: beef, lamb, chicken and fish as well as dried lentils and beans, wholegrains, iron-fortified breakfast cereals and green, leafy vegetables.

2. Biotin

Also known as vitamin B7, biotin has a role to play in activating hair growth. In fact, one of the symptoms of biotin deficiency – which is quite rare – is hair loss. 

You’ll find it in: cauliflower, egg yolks, peanuts, liver, chicken, yeast and mushrooms.

3. Folate

Another B vitamin, the role it plays in supporting a healthy pregnancy isn’t its only job – folate also helps to stimulate the rebuilding of hair-follicle cells and, like biotin, low levels may be linked to hair prematurely turning grey.

You’ll find it in: vegetables, like asparagus, spinach and broccoli; fruits, such as oranges, bananas and strawberries; legumes; and fortified bread.
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4. Silica

It’s been linked to everything from supporting the healthy growth and shine of hair to promoting stronger, thicker hair strands. This may be thanks to the way silica supports keratin, the fibrous protein that forms the main structural constituent of hair. 

You’ll find it in: wholegrain cereals (especially oats), spinach, bananas, red lentils, green beans and dried fruit.

5. Vitamin C

This helps your body produce collagen, an important protein that’s used to make everything from skin to cartilage and blood vessels – and hair. Plus, vitamin C helps your body absorb non-heme iron, the type contained in plant-based sources.

You’ll find it in: a wide variety of fruits, including oranges, mangoes, kiwifruit and strawberries; and vegetables, particularly green vegetables, like capsicum, spinach and broccoli.

6. Zinc

It supports a healthy immune system and wound healing and may even offer some protection against cold-causing viruses, but zinc also contributes to the development of hair follicles and hair growth. 

You’ll find it in: a variety of foods. Meat, fish and poultry tend to be the main dietary sources, but dairy foods, cereals, legumes and some nuts and seeds, including pumpkin seeds, also contain substantial amounts of zinc.