As hair ages, it naturally falls out, while new hair is constantly produced. While increased hair loss can be a result of disease, genetics or aging, your diet also places a role in maintaining healthy hair. If you are concerned about hair loss because of poor nutrition, check your diet to ensure it is a healthy, balanced diet with no sudden drops in calorie intake, and is sufficient in protein and iron.
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A Balanced Diet
Crash diets or extreme weight loss can lead to excess hair falling out, often occurring long after the weight has been lost, so you might not think the two are related. If you have lost more than 15 pounds, you may begin seeing increased hair loss 3 to 6 months after your weight disappeared. To help encourage healthy hair regrowth, keep a balanced diet, making gradual rather than sudden changes when necessary. Avoid diets that eliminate an entire food group from your eating plan, as this can significantly reduce the nutrients you need for healthy hair growth. Start by trying to lose a safe amount of weight each week, roughly 1 to 2 pounds per week, or 5 to 10 percent of your starting body weight with gradual calorie reduction and regular exercise.
Eat Enough Protein
Protein is key for healthy hair, and when your body does not get enough protein, you may experience hair loss 2 to 3 months after the fact as your body rations out the available protein. The U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends that you eat between 5 and 6 1/2 ounces of protein foods a day, making at least 8 ounces a week a seafood choice. A variety of foods, including red meat and vegetable protein sources like beans, can help you achieve a balanced diet.
Get Enough Iron
Iron is an essential mineral that also encourages healthy hair production, and a lack of iron will lead to hair loss. Meats, seafood and beans are natural sources of iron, as are leafy greens and whole grains. A 3-ounce serving of clams contains 2.39 milligrams of iron, while a 1-cup serving of cooked lentils has 3.3 milligrams of iron. This provides 13 to 30 percent and 18 to 41 percent of the recommended dietary allowance for iron, respectively. Iron also helps with the transportation of oxygen in your body as it is needed to produce hemoglobin, an important part of your red blood cells, and myoglobin, two oxygen carrying proteins.
Foods Rich in Vitamin C
Getting enough vitamin C will also help with hair growth because it is needed to produce collagen, which keeps your skin, hair and tendons healthy. Citrus fruits, kiwis and leafy greens are all a good source of vitamin C, with a 2-cup serving of chopped kale containing 160.8 milligrams of vitamin C. This is over 100 percent of the recommended dietary intake of vitamin C for all adults, which ranges from 75 to 120 milligrams per day.
- American Academy of Dermatology: Hair Loss
- HelpGuide.org: Healthy Eating
- National Health Service: How to Diet
- ChooseMyPlate.gov: How Much Food Is Needed From the Protein Foods Group Daily?
- ChooseMyPlate.gov: What Foods Are In The Protein Foods Group?
- MedlinePlus: Iron in Diet
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Mollusks, Clam
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Lentils, Cooked
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid)
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Kale, Raw