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The old saying "you are what you eat" is based in fact. Just as loading up on high-calorie, fat-laden foods can cause a person to become obese; eating the wrong kinds of foods also can have a negative effect on the health of a person's hair.
Healthy hair depends more on what a person puts into their body, rather than what they are slathering on their scalp or hair strands. The cells and bodily processes which support healthy skin, hair and nails require a sufficient diet in order to work properly.
So what kinds of food are good for hair growth and health?
Omega 3 Fatty Acids: This healthy fat source can do wonders for your hair by preventing it from becoming dry and brittle. Dry and brittle hair is more susceptible to falling out. While omega 3's can be purchased in the form of over-the-counter supplements, they also can be found in a variety of foods, such as salmon, herring, sardines, avocado and walnuts.
Biotin and Zinc: These two vitamins are a powerhouse source of health for hair. Biotin, which is a B vitamin, can help to strengthen one's hair. Zinc is important because it nourishes the hair. Food sources where it is plentiful include oysters, peanut butter, turkey and lean cuts of red meat.
Protein: Protein is the building block for all healthy hair. Protein sources are responsible for providing the amino acids which help to strengthen hair. Despite the claims being made by some hair-care products, protein sources that are applied to the surface of the hair through shampoos, conditioners and other hair products do not provide the same benefit as protein sources which are eaten. Good sources of lean protein include dairy products (milk, cheese, and yogurt), chicken, eggs, and lean beef and soy products to name a few.
Vitamin C and Iron: Often called the miracle vitamin, C can be found in citrus fruits, green leafy vegetables and other foods such as potatoes. Vitamin C aids in the body's absorption of Iron, which is another vital mineral for maintaining hair health.
Just as there are foods that can help keep hair healthy, there also are foods that can cause negative effects on hair health. Two of the foods which can directly contribute to hair loss include low-calorie liquid "diets" and raw egg whites. Low-calorie liquid diets can deplete energy stores, which directly affects the health of your hair. Raw egg whites are dangerous for two reasons. First, they contain harmful bacteria. Second, they contain a substance which binds biotin. We've already discussed the importance of biotin to healthy hair growth, so eating something that can affect biotin's health benefits is not in your best interest.
While diet is an important component in healthy hair, there are a few kinds of hair loss which even the healthiest of diets cannot help prevent. Androgenetic Alopecia, more commonly known as "male pattern baldness", cannot be prevented or reversed with diet alone. Because this kind of hair loss is genetic, diet will not correct it.
If your hair is thinning due to the natural aging process, all the biotin and Vitamin C in the world won't change it. Hair follicles spend more time in the "resting" phase as we age, and therefore do not naturally produce as much hair as they did in our younger years.
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