The Independent Pharmacy

14 Nutritionist Approved Foods To Prevent Hair Fall

Scott McDougall
Scott McDougallMPharmDirector & Registered Manager

Reviewed on 28 Feb 2024

At The Independent Pharmacy, we understand that finding strands of hair on your pillow or hairbrush every morning can be deeply distressing. But don't lose hope - the solution may be easier than you think. Excessive hair loss affects millions in the UK, significantly impacting self-esteem and daily life. The good news is that for many, improving diet and nutrition can help nourish hair follicles, improve scalp health, prevent breakage, and reduce hair loss. While many hair care products promise to treat hair loss, the key to healthy, vibrant hair lies in providing follicles with key nutrients through diet.

In this article, we'll talk about 14 powerful foods that science and nutritionists recommend for stronger, healthier hair. Learn which foods benefit hair health, the science behind how and why these nutritional powerhouses strengthen hair, and how to incorporate these foods into your daily diet. Keep reading to start your journey towards revitalised hair from the inside out!

Additional Expertise Provided By Gillian Killiner

Gillian Killiner, a UK Dietitian with 26 years of experience, has made significant contributions in both NHS and private practice, using her expertise to help others with a variety of health issues. She founded 121 Dietitian in 2008, offering tailored programs for conditions such as autoimmune disorders, weight management, gut health, hormonal imbalances and more, demonstrating a unique approach to nutrition and wellness.

Gillian Killiner

Key Takeaways:

  • Eating salmon, eggs, spinach and other vitamin-rich foods can help make hair stronger. They give your hair the nutrients it needs.
  • Taking doctor-approved pills like Propecia or using liquid Regaine can wake up sleepy hair follicles when healthy habits aren't enough.
  • Getting 7-9 hours of sleep, exercising, drinking water, and doing relaxing activities matters too. This keeps stress from making hair fall out.

The Science Behind Hair Loss

Hair is made up of a protein called keratin produced by hair follicles. Hair follicles are tiny organs in the skin that grow and cycle through phases of growth, transition, and rest.

We know it's unsettling when excessive hair loss occurs due to disruptions in this natural cycle, leading more hair to enter the shedding phase. Some common reasons include:

  • Hormonal changes like menopause and conditions like androgenetic alopecia can also contribute to loss of hair
  • High stress levels, which shift more follicles to the shedding phase
  • Nutritional deficiencies, especially iron deficiency, that deprive hair follicles of essential vitamins, minerals, and nutrients.

The key to healthy, vibrant hair lies in providing follicles with key nutrients like protein, iron, zinc, vitamins A, C, D, E and B complex through diet. But how quickly can you see changes in your hair once you start making healthier choices? The dietitian Gillian Killiner says:

“The process of hair growth is influenced by a myriad of factors that work together to maintain healthy and vibrant hair. While ensuring optimal nutrition is undeniably crucial for promoting strong and luscious locks, it's essential to acknowledge the broader spectrum of elements that can either bolster or impede the growth process. Factors such as overall health, potential malabsorption issues, hormone levels, stress levels, medication use, alcohol consumption habits, and age all play a significant role in influencing the vitality of one's hair.

By prioritizing a holistic approach to well-being and conscientiously addressing these multifaceted concerns, individuals can embark on a journey towards nurturing their hair health from within. Transitioning towards a diet abundant in essential nutrients can yield tangible improvements in as little as three months for some individuals. However, for sustainable and long-lasting results, setting realistic expectations and aiming for a timeframe of a minimum six months is not only advisable but also prudent in achieving optimal outcomes for your precious strands.”

So, which foods should you include in your diet? Here are the best 14 foods for hair growth.

14 Foods for Hair Growth

Now that you understand the science behind hair health and the importance of key nutrients, it’s time to learn about specific foods that can make a real difference in your hair health and incorporate them into your diet.

But in times when information is so easily accessible online, it can be easy to fall for the latest trends and you might find it difficult to know who you can trust. That’s why we asked the dietitian Gillian Killiner if there are any foods that are commonly believed to be beneficial to your health but actually aren’t. She says:

“I believe this has more to do with amounts of particular foods either excessive consumption or not eating groups of foods at all rather than a specific food. Apart from poor-quality, proinflammatory foods, there isn't one specific natural food that this applies to. I often see people overdoing it - consuming too much meat, believing that more is better, when, unfortunately, the opposite can be true. Fasting or severely limiting energy and protein intake is a concerning trend that some people believe is the holy grail for health, only to later discover that their hair is falling out and they are exhausted.”

Here are 14 powerful, nutritionist-recommended foods that provide essential nutrients, such as the proteins, essential fatty acids, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants needed to nourish hair follicles and promote strong, healthy growth.

Salmon: Omega-3 and Vitamin D

Salmon is rich in anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids that help nourish hair follicles and stimulate faster, thicker hair growth. Salmon is also an excellent source of vitamin D, which promotes healthy cell growth and regeneration needed for shiny, strong hair. A vitamin D deficiency can also contribute to hair loss, making foods like salmon essential. Include wild-caught salmon in your diet at least twice a week, baked, grilled, or in salads and bowls like salmon poke.

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Spinach: Iron and Folate

Spinach is a leafy vegetable, a rich plant-based source of iron, which carries oxygen to hair follicles to support strong, rapid hair growth. Spinach, one of the leafy greens, also provides vitamin C and folic acid, which helps enhance iron absorption. Additionally, spinach contains folate, a B vitamin essential for cell division and protein synthesis necessary for producing robust hair strands. Add fresh or cooked spinach to your eggs, smoothies, pasta dishes, soups and salads.

Eggs: Biotin and Protein

Eggs are a versatile source of biotin, an essential B complex vitamin that's essential for hair production, and helps produce keratin protein to strengthen hair and prevent breakage. Protein is essential for hair strength, and eggs are a versatile source of it. Eggs also contain pantothenic acid, another B-vitamin that improves hair health. They also provide complete protein with all 9 essential amino acids required for building hair structure. Enjoy eggs boiled, poached, scrambled, baked into frittatas, or folded into omelettes along with veggies.

Avocado: Healthy Fats and Vitamin E

Avocados provide healthy monounsaturated fats and vitamin E to deeply moisturise hair follicles and help you towards healthy scalp. Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant that protects hair strands from damage caused by free radicals and environmental stressors like sun exposure and pollution. Include half an avocado in your salads, mash it into toast, or blend it into smoothies to reap the benefits.

Sweet Potatoes: Beta-Carotene

Sweet potatoes are a rich source of beta-carotene, which gets converted to active vitamin A in the body. Vitamin A promotes the production of natural oils like sebum, helping keep hair and scalp moisturised to prevent brittle hair and breakage. It also regulates cell growth to maintain healthy hair follicles. Enjoy sweet potatoes baked, mashed, roasted or fried into healthy vitamin A-rich fries.

Nuts and Seeds: Zinc and Selenium

Nuts like almonds and cashews and seeds like sunflower and chia are great sources of zinc and selenium. These minerals are essential for promoting hair tissue growth and repair. Nuts and seeds also provide vitamin E antioxidants and healthy fats to moisturise hair. Sprinkle unsalted nuts and seeds on entrees like oatmeal and salads, or enjoy them in homemade energy bites and trail mixes.

Berries: Antioxidants and Vitamin C

Berries like blueberries, strawberries and raspberries provide powerful antioxidant compounds like anthocyanins to combat free radical damage caused by pollution, sun and stress. They also contain high amounts of immune-boosting vitamin C. This helps enhance the absorption of iron for healthy blood flow to the scalp and follicles. Enjoy a cup of mixed berries daily on yoghurt, oatmeal, or as a snack.

Greek Yoghurt: Probiotics and Protein

Greek yoghurt provides a powerhouse combo of over 20 grams of protein per serving to provide the essential amino acids for keratin production. It also contains live probiotic cultures that help balance bacteria on the scalp and reduce inflammation that can clog hair follicles. Top nutrient-dense Greek yoghurt with antioxidant vitamin C-rich berries, granola with zinc, or chia seeds with omega-3s for maximum hair health benefits.

Carrots: Vitamin A

Crunchy, sweet carrots are chock-full of antioxidant beta-carotene that the body converts into active vitamin A. Vitamin A helps to prevent dry hair, and regulate cell turnover and growth for healthy, vibrant hair follicles. It also boosts sebum production to moisturise and prevent an itchy, flaky scalp. Munch on baby carrots for fibre-rich snacks, add chopped or shredded carrots to salads, roast them, or blend them into soups and smoothies.

Oysters: Zinc

Oysters provide the richest source of zinc, with just 3 medium oysters delivering over 3 times your daily recommended intake. Zinc is essential for hair tissue growth and repair, and a deficiency can lead to telogen effluvium hair thinning and shedding. Enjoy a few raw or cooked oysters 2-3 times a week to maintain optimal zinc levels needed for lush, rapid hair growth.

Liver: Iron and Vitamin A

Beef or chicken liver provides highly bioavailable heme iron and preformed vitamin A, both essential for healthy hair. Iron efficiently transports oxygen to hair follicles to stimulate growth. Vitamin A thickens hair by increasing sebum production. Enjoy a few ounces of grass-fed beef or organic chicken liver once or twice a month, cooked or hidden into smoothies, meats, chilli and spaghetti sauces.

Beans and Lentils: Protein and Iron

Beans like kidney, pinto and black beans are packed with plant-based iron, protein and biotin for strong, lustrous locks. Lentils are an excellent vegetarian source of protein, iron, zinc and folate. They also provide fibre to balance hormones for minimal shedding. Add 1/2 cup cooked beans or lentils to soups, stews, burritos, curries, and salads a few times a week.

Whole Grains: B Vitamins and Fiber

Enjoying minimally processed whole grains like quinoa, brown rice, oats, and barley regularly can provide multiple hair health benefits. Whole grains supply essential B complex vitamins like biotin that serve as cofactors for building keratin protein. They also provide fibre that can help balance hormones and stress associated with excess shedding. Mix whole grains like farro into salads, enjoy oatmeal for breakfast, and make items like quinoa pilaf as a nutrient-packed side dish.

Tofu: Protein and Iron

Tofu made from soybeans can be an excellent plant-based addition to your diet for healthy hair. Just half a cup of firm tofu contains 10 grams of complete protein with all the essential amino acids to support keratin structures. Tofu also supplies non-heme iron, zinc, and selenium to nourish follicles. Try crumbling organic tofu into breakfast scrambles, adding cubed tofu into stir-fries, blending silken tofu into smoothies, or grilling marinated tofu for lettuce wraps.

How to Incorporate These Foods

Incorporating these vitamin, mineral and antioxidant-rich foods linked to healthier hair into your regular meals and snacks can seem daunting. But having a game plan and schedule makes it much more manageable.

When meal planning for the week:

  • Plan breakfasts rich in eggs for biotin, along with spinach for iron and folate. Berries and Greek yoghurt provide vitamin C and probiotics.
  • Make lunch salads topped with omega-3 rich salmon, zinc and antioxidant-packed nuts and seeds, iron and beta-carotene containing spinach and carrots.
  • Enjoy dinners centred around beans, lentils and sweet potatoes as the main dish or side to obtain iron, protein, zinc and vitamin A.
  • Pair meals with whole grains like quinoa, brown rice and oats for B vitamins.
  • Snack on fibre and vitamin A-filled baby carrots, antioxidant vitamin E nuts and seeds, and hummus made with chickpeas and tahini.
  • Use oysters and liver a couple of times per month to make dishes like oyster stew or liver pâté, which are fortified with highly bioavailable iron and zinc.

Do you still need more inspiration? That’s where the dietitian Gillian Killiner can help:

“At 121 Dietitian we offer comprehensive programs designed to evaluate and guide clients towards achieving their best health. Our Taster Plus program includes a thorough assessment of lifestyle, health status, diet, physical activity, and blood tests if necessary. Based on these assessments, we create a customized program that includes easy-to-follow plans, recipes, and shopping lists tailored to the client's preferences. To ensure progress is being made as expected, we also conduct follow-up checks.”

Other Lifestyle Changes for Better Hair Health

While diet is critical, other lifestyle factors can also support or hinder your hair health goals. And your hair offers a way to tell there’s something you need to pay attention to. The dietitian Gillian Killiner explains:

“As previously highlighted, lifestyle factors play a crucial role in ensuring optimal health and well-being. Our hair, being a sensitive barometer of our overall health, is particularly susceptible to any fluctuations in these factors. It can either thrive with luster or suffer from dryness, brittleness, and breakage based on how well we address our lifestyle habits.

Engaging in restrictive eating patterns, over-exercising without proper rest and recovery, experiencing poor sleep quality, chronic dehydration, excessive consumption of caffeine, indulging in frequent takeaways loaded with unhealthy fats and sugars - all these detrimental practices do indeed have a cumulative negative impact on the health and vitality of our hair strands.”

Exercise

Getting at least 150 minutes per week of moderate aerobic exercise such as brisk walking, swimming, or cycling can boost blood flow so more oxygen and nutrients are transported to nourish hair follicles. Incorporating yoga, pilates and stretching can also help mitigate the hair-damaging effects of stress hormones. Aim to break up exercise into 30-minute sessions most days of the week for both cardiovascular and stress-relieving benefits.

Hydration

Staying properly hydrated is vital for getting hair-growing nutrients to follicles. Drink at least 2 litres or 8 glasses of water daily to maintain blood volume. Limit consumption of caffeinated and alcoholic beverages, which can dehydrate the body. Eat foods high in water content like fruits, veggies, broth-based soups and smoothies to boost hydration levels.

Stress Management

Chronic stress leads to elevated cortisol and oxidative stress that can shorten the hair growth phase and shift more follicles into the shedding telogen phase. Set aside time every day for stress management techniques like meditation, yoga, deep breathing, journaling and walks in nature. Get at least 7-9 hours of quality sleep nightly. Consider using herbs like ashwagandha to regulate cortisol. Say no to unnecessary obligations and build fun, relaxing time into your schedule.

We know it's a journey, but making lifestyle adjustments alongside dietary changes can pave the way for the vibrant, lustrous hair you deserve. Be patient, as it can take months to see results, but staying consistent with both your diet and lifestyle will pay off.

Medical Treatments for Hair Loss: Trying One More Option

I get it - you've done everything "right" to grow back healthy hair. You eat nutrient-rich foods, exercise, reduce stress, get enough sleep. But still end up clogging the shower drain or brushing out handfuls from your hairbrush. Frustrating!

Genetics and hormones sometimes need an extra nudge to put hair loss in reverse. So if your lifestyle measures fall short, talk to your doctor. There are a couple medical options that could kickstart new growth when paired with your healthy habits.

Your doctor may bring up finasteride (Propecia). This daily pill gets to the root of the problem by blocking DHT - that's a sneaky hormone that shrinks up hair follicles. Putting DHT in "time out" allows follicles to wake back up and sprout new hairs.

There's also over-the-counter minoxidil (brand's called Regaine). This liquid solution amps up blood flow to sleepy follicles so they leap back into growing mode. Women can use Regaine too, in its 5% version.

Both meds take 2-3 months to kick in. But combining doctor-approved treatments with nutrition and self-care could convince your hair it's time to stick around. Still - medicines are serious business. So talk to your doctor before starting anything new!

Take the Next Step With The Independent Pharmacy

Now that you know which lifestyle tweaks and medical treatments could help your hair look healthy again, it's time to take action!

The Independent Pharmacy has an online team ready to help you get to the root of hair loss. We'll start by having you fill out a simple self-assessment about your situation. No need to book a doctor's appointment!

Our qualified team will review your answers to customise the best combination of treatments for your type of hair loss and preferences. Expect science-backed suggestions like vitamin supplements if needed, over-the-counter serums, prescription medications, and additional tips.

Don't watch your strands go down the drain another day and get in touch with our team! Take our quick hair loss assessment now and receive your personalised recommendations. With proven solutions on the way, your hair will soon be on its way to a comeback.

People Also Ask

What should I stop eating for hair loss?

Reducing the intake of sugary foods, highly processed carbs, and saturated and trans fats found in fried foods and baked goods can help minimise hair loss. These foods can contribute to inflammation, insulin resistance, hormonal imbalances and nutritional deficiencies that disrupt healthy hair growth cycles. Focus your diet on lean proteins, healthy fats, complex carbohydrates, and a rainbow of vegetables to get hair-strengthening vitamins and minerals.

How can I stop hair loss naturally?

The most effective way to reduce hair loss naturally is to follow a balanced diet that's rich in whole foods and low in sugar. Be sure to get sufficient iron, zinc, protein, omega-3s and B vitamins from sources like spinach, salmon, eggs, yoghurt, nuts and whole grains. Lifestyle factors like stress management, exercise, hydration and adequate sleep are also key. Natural supplements like ashwagandha and biotin may provide added support when combined with a healthy diet and active lifestyle.

What can I drink to prevent hair loss?

Staying well hydrated by drinking at least 2 litres of water daily can help carry nutrients to hair follicles, prevent breakage and minimise hair loss. Other beneficial beverages include green tea, aloe vera juice and bone broth for hydration and hair-strengthening nutrients. Limit excessive caffeine and alcohol, which can dehydrate hair and exacerbate hair loss.

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