Healthy Hair, I Care

Have you gone to every extreme to get thick, long and HEALTHY hair?  I know I have very dry and coarse hair so it takes a little extra TLC to make sure it looks beautiful and shiny instead of dull and frizzy.  Especially now that summer is here, its time I up my efforts to keep that lion’s mane down!   I have tried several brands of hair, skin and nails pills.  However, I feel while when taking these, my nails in particular became more brittle.  I have also tried taking prenatal pills as a cosmetologist had recommended these to me.  I did not notice much of a difference after using them.  Obviously, knowing me I turned to food to help my hair get to where it is today, as there are several nutrients that are beneficial for our hair.

If you have tried a hair, skin and nail supplement, one nutrient you would for sure find is biotin.  Biotin is one of the B vitamins.  Within the body biotin plays a key role in protein synthesis, or the making of proteins within the body.  One protein it helps to synthesize is keratin.  Keratin is what our hair is made of.  You may see products in the hair care isle marked “keratin oil.”  Although, this topical treatment may help your hair increase in shine because it is an oil, it is not going to have the same impact as the keratin synthesis occurring in our bodies.  Because of this, another important nutrient to consume in adequate amounts to ensure healthy hair is protein.  Within the body we have something called an amino acid pool.  Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins.  Our body is continuously breaking down and building proteins from our food intake and the protein stored in our muscles.  For example, if our amino acid pool is low, protein from our muscles will be broken down into individual amino acids and sent into our blood or “pool”.  These amino acids can then bond to form new proteins, such as keratin as needed.  To avoid the breakdown of muscle protein, we need to make sure we are consuming adequate protein so we can use the amino acids from the metabolism of this not muscles.  Again, biotin and the other B vitamins play critical roles in both metabolism of protein we consume as well as the synthesis of new proteins within the body.

Iron is another nutrient you are going to want in adequate amounts to ensure hair health.  Iron is a transport nutrient and so important because it is transporting oxygen throughout the body.  All living cells need oxygen and this includes our hair.  Ensuring enough oxygen gets to our scalp will ensure the formation of new hair follicles and the health of existing.   This will help maintain a full head of healthy hair.

Additionally, the vitamins that hold antioxidant properties will help promote healthy hair.  These include beta carotene (derived from vitamin A), vitamin C and vitamin E.  Antioxidants fight oxidation within the body.  Oxidation occurs with disease and inflammation, however it also occurs naturally with aging.  Consuming adequate amounts of these three vitamins can help delay aging by decreasing the affects of oxidation within the body.  When talking about hair it means assisting in coarse hair, dead ends as well as even the graying of hair!  Check that out!

Lastly, it is critical you consume adequate amounts of fat.  Not just any fats but the healthy fats including omega-3.  Omega- 3 fatty acids have similar health benefits to the antioxidant vitamins just discussed.  Omega- 3 helps reduce inflammation.  When we have inflammation present we can experience hair loss as well as decreased health of our hair in terms of dryness and brittleness.  Getting this healthy fat into your diet can help protect against these common symptoms.

Now that you know what nutrients you need it is time to understand how to get these into your diet!

Biotin is found in a wide variety of foods including eggs and nuts.  Iron is most commonly associated with red meats as this is the most absorbable source of iron.  All of these foods are also sources of protein so you are killing two birds with one stone.  You can even find eggs that are fortified with omega- 3 to incorporate another hair health vitamin into the mix.  Omega- 3 is also found in salmon (protein!) as well as plant based foods like chia seeds, flaxseeds and flaxseed oil.

The antioxidant vitamins are found in a variety of foods.  Vitamin A is found in orange vegetables like carrots and sweet potatoes as well as dark leafy greens including kale and spinach.  Vitamin E is also found in foods such as spinach and sweet potatoes as well as a personal favorite food of mine, AVACADO!  However, it is also found in many nuts, which are also great sources of healthy fats and protein our hair would benefit from.  Vitamin C is best known to be found in our citrus fruits like oranges and grapefruits.  Check out Citrus is in Season, Y’all for great ideas of adding citrus to your diet!

After looking at all of these foods it seems that EGGS and NUTS fit into nearly every category we discussed.  So I am just going out on a limb here but if you are looking for healthy hair try adding some extra eggs and a few servings of your favorite nut from the nut family into your diet as a start and work your way towards incorporating more foods discussed on a weekly basis.

When it comes to food for improving the health of our hair, we can use it beyond just consumption.  You can try different topical treatments utilizing the same foods we previously talked about rather than guessing which hair product to buy at the store.  I can guarantee your homemade product will have a more concentrated amount of vitamins as the store bought often has water listed as the first ingredient.  Additionally, your homemade mask will cost a lot less.  Try mashing an avocado (vitamin E) with lemon juice (vitamin C) and apply to your hair for 15 minutes then rinse.  You can also try a flaxseed or coconut oil mask, again leaving it in your hair for about 15 minutes.

Want to know a super fun fact about hair and protein? Who wouldn’t?!

Cysteine has been my favorite amino acid ever since my first biochemistry class.  For those of you that do not know me, I have very curly hair.  It was my biochemistry teacher who told me my hair is curly due to the cysteine present in my hair.  He explained that the sulfur groups in the R group of cysteine are bonding with each other creating disulfide bonds.  The more of these double bonds the more kinks in the hair.

Maybe that is only super cool for nerds like me but I love sharing it! Hope you enjoyed this article!

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